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Contact:
Haley Messner
San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
619-312-1212
messner@fastforwardevents.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHEF ARON SCHWARTZ OF MARINA KITCHEN CROWNED “CHEF OF THE FEST” AT THE 2015 SAN DIEGO BAY WINE + FOOD FESTIVAL®


Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Takes Home Top Honors and Shared Purse Of Over $50,000 In Cash And Prizes At Lexus Grand Tasting During West Coast’s Largest Food and Wine Festival

San Diego, CA (November 25, 2015) – In conjunction with the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® announces the winners of this year’s Chef of the Fest Competition. The annual competition brings top San Diego chefs head-to-head in a fierce culinary competition judged by the San Diego Chapter of the American Culinary Federation along with guest judges.

This year’s Chef of the Fest title went to Chef Aron Schwartz of Marina Kitchen located in the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina for his dish, “Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Purslan and Aji Chili Vinaigrette.” San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® co-producer, Michelle Metter calls the competition the perfect conclusion to the weeklong food and wine classic.

“The Chef of the Fest competition is a true presentation of the outstanding chefs and talent found in San Diego. With the level of culinary artisanship increasing each year, we are continually impressed with the high-caliber of dishes presented at the Grand Tasting,” continued Metter. “The San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival is made possible by the creativity, innovation and passion of the city’s top chefs, tastemakers and epicurean leaders - we congratulate all of this year’s competitors on a truly craveworthy showcase.”

Each year, the San Diego Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, a professional organization of chefs and culinarians, judges the Chef of the Fest Competition. The San Diego Chapter Secretary, Chef Katherine Emmenegger, was lead coordinator of the judging process. Seven guest judges joined in responsibilities, Chef of the Fest Judges included:

1. Candice Woo – Editor, Eater San Diego
2. Gary Thompson – Education Chair, ACF Chefs and Culinarians of San Diego
3. Daryl Bigs – Executive Chef and General Manager, The Curious Fork, San Diego
4. Suzette Gresham – Executive Chef, Acquerello, San Francisco
5. Ivan Flowers – Corporate Executive Chef, Striders, San Diego
6. Kurt Waefler – Instructor and Executive Chef, San Diego Culinary Institute
7. Urs Emmenger – Executive Chef at Casa De Manana and President of the ACF Chefs and Culinarian of San Diego

The 2015 Chef of the Fest Competition was judged using a blind-tasting format. Thirty-one competitors were carefully narrowed down to five finalists and five category winners using a graded point system. Participants were ranked based on cumulative scores considering the dish’s presentation, flavor, innovation, quality of product, and preparation in the allotted time.

The top five finishers, category winners were announced by San Diego Magazine Food Critic Troy Johnson and the People’s Choice Award was announced my KUSI Meteorologist, Mark Mathis. Awards were presented on Saturday, November 21 at the Lexus Grand Tasting on the Big Green Egg Grill Zone Demonstration Stage.

The 2015 Chef of the Fest Competition results are as follows:

First Place Grand Prize Winner
Aron Schwartz – Marina Kitchen
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin | Purslan | Aji Chili Vinaigrette

Second Place Winner
Trevor Chappell – The Barrel Room
Braised Duck "Tostada" | Mole Sauce | House Pickled Radish

Third Place Winner
James Monetjano – The MED at La Valencia Hotel
Lacquered Mediterranean Octopus | Muhammara | Trumpet Mushrooms | Oven Roasted Tomato | Fig and Olive Purée

Fourth Place Winner
Mark Kropczynski – Grant Grill
Buddha’s Hand Citron | Cake | Curd | Marmalade | Hibiscus Ice Cream | Syrup

Fifth Place Winner
Duvinh Ta – Jake’s Del Mar
Surf and Turf Tartare | Bulgogi Marinated Steak Tartare | Lobster Lightly Dressed | Kewpie | Fresh Lemon Juice | Cracked Black Pepper | Micro Cilantro | Cucumber Sprouts | Kimchee Vinaigrette

Meat Category Winner
Aron Schwartz – Marina Kitchen
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin | Purslan | Aji Chili Vinaigrette

Poultry Category Winner
Trevor Chappell – The Barrel Room
Braised Duck "Tostada" | Mole Sauce | House Pickled Radish

Seafood Category Winner
James Monetjano – The MED at La Valencia Hotel
Lacquered Mediterranean Octopus | Muhammara | Trumpt Mushrooms | Oven Roasted Tomato | Fig and Olive Purée

Vegetarian / Raw Category Winner
John Medall – The Patio Restaurant Group
Roasted Butternut Squash | Toasted Pecans | Caramelized Onion | Sage Brown Butter | Whipped Honey Mascarpone Butter | Purple Kale

Dessert Category Winner
Mark Kropczynski – Grant Grill
Buddha’s Hand Citron | Cake | Curd | Marmalade | Hibiscus Ice Cream | Syrup

Cash and prizes were awarded to the Chef of the Fest competition winners, including a feature in Cooking Light magazine, a feature in Dining Out Magazine, NBC 7 Winner Profile, inclusion in San Diego Magazine, Premium Large Big Green Egg, Celebrity Cruises Wine Basket and Luxury Robes, Engraved Bottle from Woodford Reserve, DelGrossos Gift Basket, Partagas Cigar Gift Set, Business Consultation from BLAU and Associates, Two Round Trip Tickets from Southwest Airlines, Veuve Champagne Bottle, Three Night Stay at a Premium Property in Las Vegas and more. Additional prizes were awarded for second through fifth place and People’s Choice.

This year’s wine and food festival also saw the return of the People’s Choice Award Presented by San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. In addition to being evaluated by the esteemed panel of judges, Chef of the Fest competitors were also subject to the critiques of Lexus Grand Tasting attendees, who had opportunity to vote for their favorite Chef of the Fest dish. Chef Brad Hightow of Florent took the “People’s Choice Award” title with his Maryland Crab Cake.

SAN DIEGO BAY WINE + FOOD FESTIVALTM

The 12th Annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® is an international showcase of the world's premier wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities, and gourmet foods. Held November 16-22, 2015, the event benefits culinary arts and enology scholarships awarded by The American Institute of Wine & Food and the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Over 150 wineries, breweries and spirit companies, 70 of San Diego’s top fine dining restaurants and 30 gourmet food companies will participate in the 2015 Festival. For more information visit www.sandiegowineclassic.com. Produced by World of Wine Events and Fast Forward Event Productions. For more information call 619-312-1212

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