California Giant Berry Farms Announces Chef Invitational Finalists

Watsonville, CA – May 15, 2019 – California Giant Berry Farms is hosting their 2nd annual Chef Invitational culinary competition this summer, June 25th at Tehama Golf Club in Monterey, CA and have selected the competing chef finalists.

The company asked their foodservice distributor partners to select their best chefs to submit either an entrée or dessert recipe – with final selected recipes to be judged upon appearance, usage of berries, flavor and creativity. Over the course of the 3-day event, chef finalists chosen will participate in field tours, meal events, a Foodie Forum, and compete against one another at the Chef Invitational for title of Top California Giant Chef.

An array of impressive, innovative recipe submissions from interested chef participants flooded their entry forms, and after a tough deliberation – six finalists were chosen to continue on to compete at the Chef Invitational next month.

  •  Chef Israel Ortiz – Harrah’s Resort/Fresh Concepts
  • Chef Travis Peters – Shamrock Foodservice/Markon
  • Chef Jonathon Merrick – Maines Paper & Food Service/Markon
  • Chef Adrian Day-Murchison – Renaissance Food Group
  • Chef Patty Long – Renaissance Food Group
  • Chef Christian Kearns – Sysco

“It was an incredibly challenging decision choosing our finalists this year,” says California Giant Foodservice Director, Tom Smith. “The innovation, creativity and attention to detail in each dish reaffirms why we started the Chef Invitational last year. We love seeing chef participants thinking outside of the box when using berries, and constructing savory and sweet dishes with different textures, flavors and components to show the diversification of all four berry types on the menu.”

In just over a month, each of the six finalists will compete against one another at their individual chef stations as they re-create a hero dish, 5-fully plated judge’s dishes, and 50+ samples for guests in attendance. Ultimately, the panel of judges will select the Top California Giant Chef based upon the four specific criteria – appearance, usage of berries, flavor and creativity. Among the panel of judges includes notable chefs such as Denis Boaro of Gusto and Basil Restaurants in Seaside and Carmel, California Giant Influencer and Chef, Ashley Walterhouse (Fit Mitten Kitchen), and Chef Dave Parker of Tehama Golf Club in Monterey.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to open up my kitchen to the California Giant Chef Finalists to prepare their dishes,” says Chef Dave Parker. “I look forward to the energy and innovation that will take place this year, and to be a part of such a dynamic culinary event.”

California Giant is excited to kick off a new additional feature as part of the event, a Foodie Forum, meant to unite foodservice representatives and their chefs, as well as California Giant staff, growers, influencers, and special guest speakers including current Chef Invitational title holder- Chef Luis Reyes of Sysco –West Coast Florida. The Foodie Forum is expected to be an energetic, collaborative, and creative dialogue amongst attendees regarding various culinary topics, trends in produce, berries on the menu, and shared perspectives on the future.

Among the chef participant’s recipe samples at the event, there will be bites and beverages provided by generous local sponsors such as Baker’s Bacon, Lula’s Chocolates, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, Odonata Wines, and Alfaro Family Vineyards.



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!