WATSONVILLE, Calif. – A new theme, new location, and new event guidelines – California Giant Berry Farms announces its 3rd Annual Chef Invitational July 19-22, and this time, the berry company is welcoming both foodservice and retail partners to come along for the culinary competition in the Pacific Northwest.
For the first time ever, the Chef Invitational will be hitting the road and uniting both foodservice and retail chefs to bring forth their best berry-inspired entree and dessert recipes for the chance to be selected as a Chef Finalist and attend an all-inclusive trip to Portland, Oregon. With an all-encompassing yearlong effort to celebrate the ‘Year of Blue’ – a color of deep symbolism of the California Giant brand and company heritage, it only felt fitting for the berry company to bring the Chef Finalists to tour their blueberry operations in a colorful, eclectic and food-centric city like Portland, Oregon.
“Blueberries continue to chip away at retail shelf space that was previously held by strawberries,” explains California Giant Berry Farms Director of Foodservice, Tom Smith “At California Giant, we are continuing to increase blueberry production and year-round supplies from all major growing regions in both conventional and organic categories, so it made perfect sense to promote blueberries through this event in the “year of blue”. With our summer blueberry production in Oregon, near an incredible food forward city such as Portland, we couldn’t have found a better place to hold the event.”
The online recipe submission portal is officially open, and industry chefs are being asked to submit at least one berry-inspired entree or dessert recipe to the online portal by May 1, 2020 to be considered for a Chef Finalist position. Similarly to the previous two years, chef recipes will be judged based upon appearance, use of at least two berries in a quantity of one cup or more, flavor and creativity.
The Chef Finalists will be selected and announced to the industry by May 11, 2020 and invited to Portland, Oregon. Upon arriving in Portland this July, Finalists will then learn guidelines for the second phase of the on-going event, a new challenge and exciting twist to the 2020 competition.
When looking back at his experience from last year’s Chef Invitational, 2019 Top California Giant Chef and Markon Chef representative Travis G. Peters of The Parish Tucson explains, “I loved getting to know fellow chefs and being creative with one of my favorite ingredients – berries. Having a mid-summer field tour and culinary competition brought out the best dishes I’ve seen in a long time.”
This year’s 2020 Finalists can expect blueberry field tours in the lush countryside outside Portland city limits, one-on-one time with blueberry growers, educational activities, a look inside California Giant’s sustainability initiatives and Bee Better Program, berry varietal tastings, chef swag bags, meal events, and a suspenseful second-phase of the competition.
“We’re incredibly excited to host this event for the 3rd consecutive year,” says Smith. “The Chef Invitational has continued to build great relationships with our foodservice partners and their talented chefs and we’re happy to add the retail channel chefs to the event this year. The chefs that have won the competition the last two years have served as unmatched brand ambassadors and have continued to use and promote California Giant berries in restaurants, beer collaborations, recipe creation and menu development. The more the chefs are talking about and using berries in innovative new recipes, the more berries we sell. And at the end of the day, we are driving innovation and ultimately driving sales.”
To learn more about the 3rd Annual Chef Invitational and to submit a recipe for a chance to compete for the title of 2020 Top California Giant Chef, please visit www.calgiant.com/foodservice