Chef Luis Reyes Reflects on California Giant Berry Farms Chef Invitational
WATSONVILLE, CA - There is nothing I love more than creativity. It sparks passion and drives change, and one space where creativity lights up is none other than California Giant Berry Farms’ Chef Invitational. As the date for the fifth iteration of the event nears, I reached out to the chef whose win began it all.
Luis Reyes, Executive Chef of Sysco West Coast Florida, took a beat with me to share how the win has impacted him since.
“It’s impacted me a great deal, both personally and professionally. From the moment I learned that I was a finalist, to the live competition with a great group of chefs and professionals, and right up to winning the first California Giant’s Chef Invitational—that is something I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Luis told me. “Great relationships also emerged from the competition with the California Giant family; the employees, growers, their families; and with the other chefs.”
Luis took home the win with his Berry, Tomato, and Beet Salad, paving the way for berries being featured more prominently alongside savory flavors.
But what really inspired Luis during the event was the chance to meet with the growers on the field tours, something he explained to me was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting the berries right from the plant is something that you never forget,” he said. “But what really elevates the berries is the story; the story of the labor of love that is growing, harvesting, and shipping berries for us to enjoy. Everyone involved under the California Giant Berry Farms family umbrella truly loves and enjoys producing the berries. You could see the passion when we met the growers, pickers, and employees alike.”
As Luis noted, growing is not easy by any means. But as we know in the industry, passion for produce is a hard bug to shake.
Luis continues to grow his foodservice prowess, experimenting with different flavors and uses for berries.
“I encourage other chefs to think outside the box, to create dishes where fresh berries are part of recipes where traditionally they may not be. The berries are so versatile, and they can be incorporated into any cuisine, menu, and meal type,” Luis noted. “We will always have them as toppings and sides. Now, it’s time to shine the spotlight and bring them to the center stage as the star. That’s how the consumption increases.”
Keep reading us here at AndNowUKnow as we continue to cover the lead-up to this year’s Chef Invitational, and be sure to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Chef by clicking here!