California Giant Berry Farms Reveals Finalists for the 5th Annual Chef Invitational; Tom Smith Comments
WATSONVILLE, CA - The finalists are in! If you have been keeping up with AndNowUKnow over the past couple of weeks, you know that California Giant Berry Farms is hosting its fifth annual Chef Invitational. The berry supplier has officially announced its People’s Choice winner and chef finalists for this year’s competition.
“The introduction of the trend requirement this year yielded impressive recipe submissions,” said California Giant Director of Sales Tom Smith. “The chefs came forth with innovative, on-trend recipes that leveled up the event as we know it. We’re looking forward to seeing who takes home the title of Top Chef!”
This year’s People’s Choice winner is David McGurn, Performance Foodservice, gaining voters’ attention with his Congee with Brulé Berries and Quick Berry Pickles. McGurn will automatically progress to the final in-person round of the competition and take home a $500 cash prize, accompanied by a matching grant to his selected non-profit organization, The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Alongside McGurn, four chef finalists will attend an in-person, four-day finale event on California’s Central Coast from June 25–28, a press release explained.
The event finalists include:
- Dontre'al Haigler, Denny’s – Fruity Fried Octopus with Blueberry Sticky Rice
- Jereme Nemeth, Sysco – Blackberry Fennel Scallops with Blueberry Risotto
- Katie Bulger, Performance Foodservice – Blackberry Brown Butter Seabass with Strawberry Chimichurri
- Steven Halliday, Gordon Food Service – Red Thai Berry Chicken Curry with Blueberry Lemon Rice
The immersive event will include field tours of California Giant’s berry fields, meet-and-greets with growers, and a grand finale at which the Top Chef will be named. The fifth annual event also introduces an educational session led by Chef Rosalyn Darling, in which she will highlight her culinary innovation methodology that combines macro societal trends and Culinary Compassion™ for meaningful menu development.
Each of the finalists will compete during the finale by re-creating their custom, berry-forward recipe, and a panel of judges will select the Top Chef based on appearance, usage of berries, flavor, and creativity. The panel of judges includes the previous Chef Invitational Top Chefs, accompanied by California Giant Influencer, Chef, and Cookbook Author Marie Reginato.
Stay tuned as we continue to cover this exciting industry event!