Shantel Wilder was born in Freeport Bahamas, raised in Key West and makes authentic, savory conch salad with a recipe passed down in her family for generations. She is the owner and operator of Tropix Delight catering which has a booth at Goombay Festival this year. The fresh conch comes from the Bahamas and is shipped stateside just for the event.
“It is important for the conch to have the flavor like it’s fresh out the sea,” said Wilder. “Frozen conch does not compare in taste and texture.”
She’s willing to share the basic ingredients of her conch salad recipe — juicy limes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions and, of course, the freshest conch available.
There is also a top-secret ingredient Wilder won’t divulge, but she did say customers at Goombay might be able to catch a glimpse as the conch salad is prepared on the spot. Oh, and if you want it hot, Wilder said she can throw a scotch bonnet pepper in the mix.
She said her favorite part of working at Goombay Fest is that it recreates that hometown atmosphere. The culture, the music, the Junkanoos, and the food create the island feel.
Despite its presence in Keys waters, it’s illegal to harvest conch. All conch must be imported and its scarcity makes it even more precious to locals. Every year her conch salad sells out at Goombay and she boasts customers tell her it is the best in Key West. Cracked conch, fried crabs, fruit kabobs, deep fried conch and conch salad in a pineapple are also on her menu.
Shantra works alongside Wilder at Goombay and also grow up eating Bahamian cuisine derived from family recipes.
“I am proud to represent a conch salad that is authentic,” said Shantra.
Wilder also has Goombay Punch soda at her booth, which is imported from the Bahamas. She also caters at Conch Fest and Fantasy Fest. Her booth at Goombay is located at 100 Petronia St.