California Giant Berry Farms Announces 5th Annual Chef Invitational Finalists; People’s Choice Winner David McGurn from Performance Foodservice

WATSONVILLE, CA – May 24, 2023 – California Giant Berry Farms today announced its People’s Choice winner and chef finalists of its 2023 Chef Invitational.  

The People’s choice winner is: 

  • David McGurn, Performance Foodservice – Congee with Brulee Berries and Quick Berry Pickles 

The finalists and their recipes are:   

  • Dontre’al Haigler, Denny’s – Fruity Fried Octopus with Blueberry Sticky Rice 
  • Jereme Nemeth, Sysco – Blackberry Fennel Scallops with Blueberry Risotto 
  • Katie Bulger, Performance Foodservice – Blackberry Brown Butter Seabass with Strawberry Chimichurri 
  • Steven Halliday, Gordon Food Service – Red Thai Berry Chicken Curry with Blueberry Lemon Rice 

People’s Choice Chef David McGurn 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 his selected non-profit organization. 

Alongside McGurn, 4 chef finalists will attend an in-person 4-day finale event on California’s Central Coast from June 25th – 28th. This immersive 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. Also unique to the event’s 5th iteration is an educational session led by Chef Rosalyn Darling. The workshop introduces her culinary innovation methodology that combines macro societal trends and Culinary Compassion™ for meaningful menu development. 

Each of the finalists will compete during the finale by re-creating their custom, berry-forward recipe. Ultimately, a panel of judges will select the California Giant Chef Invitational Top Chef based upon the 4 specific criteria – appearance, usage of berries, flavor and creativity.  

The panel of judges includes the previous Chef Invitational Top Chefs, accompanied on the judges panel by California Giant Influencer, Chef and Cookbook Author, Marie Reginato. 

“The introduction of the trend requirement this year yielded impressive recipe submissions,” said California Giant Director of Sales, Tom Smith. “The chefs came forth with innovative, on-trend recipes that leveled up the event as we know it. We’re looking forward to seeing who takes home the title of Top Chef!” 

To learn more about the California Giant Chef Invitational visit: 


Follow your berries to the farm.

Locate the 16-Digit Trace code.​ Enter the trace back code from your berries to learn about where they were grown. Too bad we can’t deliver the fresh fragrance, too!