Semi-finalists announced for 4th Annual Chef Invitational

California Giant Berry Farms, a grower-shipper of fresh sustainable berries, announced nine semi-finalists for its 4th annual 2022 Chef Invitational.  

They are:

  • Adrian Day-Murchison, Calavo: Spiced Blueberry Lamb Waffle Burger with Strawberry Feta Tzatziki   
  • Christian Kearns, Sysco: Bangin' Berry Taco 
  • Derek Seigfried, Gordon Food Service: Blackberry Lamb Kofta
  • Dontre’al Haigler, Denny’s: California Giant Berry Meets the Sea 
  • Jereme Nemeth, Sysco: Berry Brisket Sando 
  • Marites Cotillon, Stone Brewing: Strawberry Scallop Aguachile 
  • Michael Boyer, Nordstrom: Beet Berry Grain Bowl 
  • Shea Zappia, Sysco: Strawberry Agave Glazed Pork Belly 

2020 Chef Invitational Top Chef winner Sam Blackburn with his winning dish.

The chefs will face off for public voting on the Chef Invitational website to win the People’s Choice award. The website features photography and video of the nine finalists’ recipes which have been re-created by cookbook author and social media influencer, Marie Reginato. The winner of the People’s Choice award 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 their selected non-profit organization. 

“The goal of the Chef Invitational has always been building upon existing and new relationships with key members of the foodservice and retail industries,” said Tom Smith, director of sales at California Giant Berry Farms. “We also look to recognize the work of accomplished chefs that create innovative recipes every day—and with the return of in-person dining and events—we’re thrilled to provide foodservice, an industry that has suffered greatly due to the pandemic, a platform in which it can highlight its talent.” 

Both the People’s Choice and four additional chef finalists will attend an in-person finale event in Monterey, CA, August 29–31st. This event will include field tours of California Giant berry fields, meet-and-greets with growers and a grand finale—at which the Top Chef will be named—all emceed by Michael Muzyk, president of Baldor Foods. 

Left to right: Michael Muzyk, Tom Smith

“Culinary innovation drives the berry business forward which is why I always pay special attention to what’s happening at the Invitational,” said Muzyk. “I’m honored to be an emcee at this event and cannot wait to see what wonderful berry-inspired plates these chefs have come up with.” 

The online voting runs now through August 5th to allow ample time for members of the trade, as well as consumers, to vote for their favorite dish and determine who will be named the People’s Choice winner. The ultimate Top Chef winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a matching grant to their selected non-profit organization. The Top Chef will be a brand ambassador for California Giant throughout the 2022-2023 year.  

To learn more about the California Giant Chef Invitational and to vote for the People’s Choice Finalist, click here.

For more information:
Kyla Oberman
California Giant Berry Farms
Tel: +1 (831) 247-4386   

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