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September 2, 2022

WATSONVILLE, CA – California Giant Berry Farms today announced the winner of the 2022 Chef Invitational, Derek Seigfried of Gordon Food Service. Seigfried won the title of California Giant Berry Farms Top Chef with his Blackberry Lamb Kofta recipe.

Judged on the criteria of best overall appearance, taste and palatability, creativity, use of ingredients and use of berries, the judges agreed that Chef Derek’s dish used the berries in a unique way that packed a very flavorful punch.

“I am thrilled to win the California Giant Top Chef title,” said Derek Seigfried, culinary specialist at Gordon Food Service. “The experience was different from the others and the camaraderie with the finalist chefs was none.”

In addition to the prestigious title of Top Chef, the chef semifinalists had a chance to win the People’s Choice vote. The website received an overwhelming response to this voting option, crowning chef Robert Stegall-Smith as the People’s Choice Chef with his recipe, Berry Pizza with Three-Berry Chipotle Sauce and Strawberry Pepperoni.

The final event included an immersive 3-day experience for the finalist chefs, consisting of field tours led by ranchers of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, wine tasting led by the winemaker with berry pairings, and the grand finale himself, presented by Baldor Specialty Foods president, Michael Muzyk. At the finale, the five finalist chefs created their own recipes to present to a panel of judges made up of previous Chef Invitational winners, including Sodexo chef Sam Blackburn, Travis Peters’ The Parish Tuscon founder, Sysco’s Luis Reyes, lo Baker’s chef Tony Baker Author of bacon and cookbooks and wellness expert, Marie Reginato.

“This has been a fantastic year for Chef Invitational,” noted marketing director Kyla Oberman. “The 5 finalist chefs brought their skills and creativity to the fore during the competition and highlighted the ingenuity that the restaurant industry is known for.”

In keeping with California Giant’s commitment to philanthropy, the award structure includes a gift matched to the nonprofit organization of the winning chef’s choice. As a Top Chef winner, Derek Seigfried wins $ 1,000 in cash for himself and a corresponding grant to his selected nonprofit organization, as well as attending the event as a brand ambassador for California Giant throughout the year. People’s Choice winner Robert Stegall-Smith wins $ 500 in cash and a matching grant to his selected nonprofit organization.

“I am delighted that the California Giant Chef Invitational continues to raise awareness for the brand and highlight extraordinary talent within the restaurant business,” said Tom Smith, California Giant Sales Director. “This event has been our best so far and I can’t wait to see the new relationships that have formed during this year’s event flourish,” added Smith.

ON CALIFORNIA GIGANT BERRY FARMS

California Giant Berry Farms started small. Formed by a passion for high-quality strawberries and the optimal growing conditions of the Pajaro Valley, three lifelong friends have come together with a simple mission in mind: to supply only the finest strawberries and give back to the community that grew them. Nearly 40 years later, California Giant has grown into a global family of people passionate about providing 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.

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