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California Giant Berry Farms Announces Annual Chef Invitational Finalists and Launches New Sweepstakes

California Giant Berry Farms Announces Annual Chef Invitational Finalists and Launches New Sweepstakes



WATSONVILLE, CA - With warm weather comes peak berry season, and California Giant Berry Farms is making sure to seize the opportunity with plenty of marketing efforts spanning both foodservice and retail. First up on the docket is the launch of its “Sip, Chill, Repeat” sweepstakes at retail, with the 3rd Annual—and first-ever digitalChef Invitational up next for foodservice.

California Giant Berry Farms is restructuring its Chef Invitational format to a web-based platform that allows both trade and consumer audiences to participate. This restructuring will also include a new philanthropic component that allows non-profit organizations two chances to win cash prizes alongside the chef winners.

Tom Smith, Director of Foodservice and Organic Sales, California Giant Berry Farms“Understanding that the foodservice category was hit hard by shelter-in-place orders and business closures, it didn’t take long for us to realize we needed to bring this competition online so that the show could go on,” said Tom Smith, Director of Foodservice and Organic Sales. “As we have all been faced with adapting to the reality of what has been ‘normal’ for the past few months, we are equally hopeful that this event can re-focus and rejuvenate each of us as we tell our stories through food, friendship, and continued partnership in the Chef Invitational.”

The Chef Invitational will run through July 8, during which time each chef and their creative, berry-inspired dish will be promoted individually on social media, according to a press release. This will allow ample time for voters to choose the People's Choice Winner and the Top Chef Award.

In an effort to help build awareness and drive purchase intent for summer berries, California Giant Berry Farm’s "Sip, Chill, Repeat" sweepstakes will include email and social media marketing

Both the winners and their selected non-profit will recieve cash prizes: $500 each for the People's Choice Winner and $1,000 each for the Top Chef winner. The Top Chef winner will also become a brand ambassador for California Giant throughout the year.

Kyla Oberman, Director of Marketing, California Giant Berry Farms“In a time where so many are directly affected by the consequences of the pandemic, California Giant wanted to bring a philanthropic element to the Invitational,” said Kyla Oberman, Director of Marketing. “It’s our mission to give back to our community, and this event allows us to help these chefs do the same.”

The following include the 2020 California Giant Chef Invitational Finalists:

Adam Walkover, Chef, Markon/Gordon Food Service

Adam Walkover, Markon/Gordon Food Service

Recipe: Blackberry Sweet Tea Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Non-profit: Cannonball Kids Cancer

Robert Stegall-Smith, Chef, Performance Foodservice

Robert Stegall-Smith, Performance Foodservice

Recipe: Petite Grilled Brie Sandwich with Blueberry Hibiscus Jam, White Chocolate and Onion Mole, Sesame Crusted Strawberries, and Berry Salsa Fresca

Non-profit: Palmetto Place – Children & Youth Services

Anthony Palmero, Chef, Performance Foodservice

Anthony Palermo, Performance Foodservice

Recipe: Blueberry Pasta Fritta with Raspberry Mascarpone and Crushed Pistachio

Non-profit: Freedom Service Dogs of America

Chris Desens, Chef, Performance Foodservice

Chris Desens, Performance Foodservice

Recipe: Warm Blueberry Gooey Butter Cake with Lemon Ricotta Sherbet and Mixed Berries

Non-profit: No Kid Hungry

Sam Blackburn, Chef, Sodexo

Sam Blackburn, Sodexo

Recipe: Pan Seared Pacific Halibut with Spicy Pickled Strawberries, Fermented Blueberry Bacon Fried Quinoa and Blackberry Mushroom Sauté

Non-profit: Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation

Bill Barker, Chef, Markon/Gordon Food Service

Bill Barker, Markon/Gordon Food Service

Recipe: Tres Berry Cakesicles

Non-profit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


“The next several weeks will be an incredible opportunity for us to showcase these wonderful chefs and promote the talent and ingenuity that they all continue to bring to the table for this event year after year,” continued Smith. “One of the greatest rewards from this event over the past several years has been the camaraderie and community that has developed around it. Although the platform has changed from previous years, our commitment and focus on making it great remains the same."

In the realm of retail, California Giant is launching its summer marketing campaign.

“We wanted to give our consumer audience a fun promotion that is relevant to them right now,” added Oberman. “As people spend more time cooking at home, we’ve seen a 15 percent increase of total coupon prints in this year’s first six months compared to the total number of prints in all of 2019. We anticipate consumers will put this new coupon to good use and in perfect time to enjoy this season’s berry harvest.”

In an effort to help build awareness and drive purchase intent for summer berries, California Giant’s Sip, Chill, Repeat sweepstakes will include email and social media marketing offering consumers downloadable coupons (like an Ibotto coupon offering $0.35 reward towards any California Giant strawberry purchase), drink recipes, and prizes (including a premium brand cooler, ice cream maker, outdoor umbrella, yoga mat, and an essential oil air diffuser). The campaign will also include the company’s second downloadable e-book of 2020.

“We have spent a lot of time listening to our loyal consumer community over the years and have been very successful in maintaining strong relationships with them through promotions such as this,” said Oberman. “The download rate of our Spring e-book was up 69 percent over the previous issue. And with the proven success of coupons this year, we hope shoppers will take advantage of both and treat themselves this summer.”

Congratulations to this year’s chef finalists!

California Giant Berry Farms



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California Giant Berry Farms

California Giant was built by the dedication of many hard-working individuals committed to one common goal; the perfect...