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California Giant announces Chef Invitational finalists, People’s Choice winner

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

WATSONVILLE, CA – California Giant Berry Farms BB #:121061 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:   

Left to right: David McGurn, Dontre’al Haigler 
  • 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 
Left to right: Jereme Nemeth, Katie Bulger, Steven Halliday 

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, The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

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: 

California Giant New Logo May 2023

About California Giant Berry Farms

California Giant Berry Farms started small. Formed out of a passion for top-quality strawberries and the optimal growing conditions of the Pajaro Valley, three lifelong friends teamed-up with a simple mission in mind – provide only the finest strawberries and give back to the community that raised them. 40 years later, California Giant has grown into a global family of people passionate about delivering the best strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Quality, consistency and community inspire the mission and values that continue to sustain us. Because the bigger the smile, the better.