|Chef Aron's winning creation|
This year's San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival Chef of the Fest title went to Chef Aron Schwartz of Marina Kitchen located in the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina for his dish, "Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Purslan and Aji Chili Vinaigrette." The annual competition brings top San Diego chefs head-to-head in a fierce culinary competition judged by the San Diego Chapter of the American Culinary Federation along with guest judges.
"The Chef of the Fest competition is a true presentation of the outstanding chefs and talent found in San Diego. With the level of culinary artisanship increasing each year, we are continually impressed with the high-caliber of dishes presented at the Grand Tasting," said event organizer Michelle Metter. "The San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival is made possible by the creativity, innovation and passion of the city's top chefs, tastemakers and epicurean leaders - we congratulate all of this year's competitors on a truly craveworthy showcase."
|Chef James Monetjano from La Valencia took 3rd place|
The 2015 Chef of the Fest Competition was judged using a blind-tasting format. Thirty-one competitors were carefully narrowed down to five finalists and five category winners using a graded point system. Participants were ranked based on cumulative scores considering the dish's presentation, flavor, innovation, quality of product, and preparation in the allotted time.
The top five finishers, category winners were announced by San Diego Magazine Food Critic Troy Johnson and the People's Choice Award was announced by KUSI Meteorologist, Mark Mathis. Awards were presented on Saturday, November 21 at the Lexus Grand Tasting on the Big Green Egg Grill Zone Demonstration Stage.
The 2015 Chef of the Fest Competition results are as follows:
First Place Grand Prize Winner - Aron Schwartz - Marina Kitchen - Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin | Purslan | Aji Chili Vinaigrette
Second Place Winner - Trevor Chappell - The Barrel Room - Braised Duck "Tostada" | Mole Sauce | House Pickled Radish
Third Place Winner - James Monetjano - The MED at La Valencia Hotel - Lacquered Mediterranean Octopus | Muhammara | Trumpet Mushrooms | Oven Roasted Tomato | Fig and Olive Purée
Fourth Place Winner - Mark Kropczynski - Grant Grill - Buddha's Hand Citron | Cake | Curd | Marmalade | Hibiscus Ice Cream | Syrup
Fifth Place Winner - Duvinh Ta - Jake's Del Mar - Surf and Turf Tartare | Bulgogi Marinated Steak Tartare | Lobster Lightly Dressed | Kewpie | Fresh Lemon Juice | Cracked Black Pepper | Micro Cilantro | Cucumber Sprouts | Kimchee Vinaigrette
Meat Category Winner - Aron Schwartz - Marina Kitchen - Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin | Purslan | Aji Chili Vinaigrette
Poultry Category Winner - Trevor Chappell - The Barrel Room - Braised Duck "Tostada" | Mole Sauce | House Pickled Radish
Seafood Category Winner - James Monetjano - The MED at La Valencia Hotel - Lacquered Mediterranean Octopus | Muhammara | Trumpt Mushrooms | Oven Roasted Tomato | Fig and Olive Purée
Vegetarian / Raw Category Winner - John Medall - The Patio Restaurant Group - Roasted Butternut Squash | Toasted Pecans | Caramelized Onion | Sage Brown Butter | Whipped Honey Mascarpone Butter | Purple Kale
Dessert Category Winner - Mark Kropczynski - Grant Grill - Buddha's Hand Citron | Cake | Curd | Marmalade | Hibiscus Ice Cream | Syrup
This year's wine and food festival also saw the return of the People's Choice Award Presented by San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. In addition to being evaluated by the esteemed panel of judges, Chef of the Fest competitors were also subject to the critiques of Lexus Grand Tasting attendees, who had opportunity to vote for their favorite Chef of the Fest dish. Chef Brad Hightow of Florent took the "People's Choice Award" title with his deliciously simple Maryland Crab Cake.