California Giant Berry Farms Announces 5th Annual Chef Invitational Semi-Finalists; Opens Voting for People’s Choice

WATSONVILLE, CA – May 8, 2023 – California Giant Berry Farms today announced 9 semi-finalists of its 5th annual 2023 Chef Invitational. The chef semi-finalists and their recipes are:

  • David McGurn, Performance Foodservice – Congee with Brûlée Berries, Granola and Quick Berry Pickles
  • Dontre’al Haigler, Denny’s — Crispy Fruity Chorizo Fried Octopus with Blueberry Sticky Rice
  • Erin Copeland, Gordon Food Service — Duck Confit Tacos with Blackberry Brown Butter Mole
  • Jason Mortus, Gordon Food Service — Thai Blueberry Coconut Milk Chicken
  • Jereme Nemeth, Sysco — Blackberry Fennel Scallops with Blueberry Risotto
  • Juan Rosado, Gordon Food Service — Strawberry Lemongrass Shrimp with Blueberry Basil Fried Rice
  • Katie Bulger, Performance Foodservice — Blackberry Brown Butter Sous Vide Seabass with Strawberry Chimichurri
  • Robert Stegall-Smith, Performance Foodservice — Asian Berry Breakfast Bowl
  • Steven Halliday, Gordon Food Service — Red Thai Berry Chicken Curry with Blueberry Lemon Rice

The semi-finalist chefs will face-off for public voting on the California Giant Chef Invitational website to win the People’s Choice award. The website features photography and video of the 9 chef 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 relationships with key members of the industry,” 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 we’re thrilled to provide a platform in which it can highlight its talent.”

Both the People’s Choice and 4 additional chef finalists will attend an in-person 4-day finale event on California’s Central Coast, from June 25 – 28th. The event will include field tours of California Giant berry fields, meet-and-greets with growers, an educational component led by Chef Rosalyn Darling, and a grand finale at which the Top Chef will be named.

The online voting will run now through May 21st to allow ample time for public voting for the People’s Choice Chef. 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 2023-2024 year.

To learn more about the California Giant Chef Invitational and to vote for the People’s Choice winner, 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!