Mar 24, 200804:30 PMThe Life
How About A Date?
The eighth annual Date Chef Competition will be held on Sunday, April 27, 2008 in the Special Events Center at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. Presented by the California Date Administrative Committee and Fantasy Springs Resort Casino to benefit culinary scholarships through the California Women for Agriculture.
The competition is open only to professional chefs currently employed by or owners of a restaurant, catering service, or hotel. Fifteen finalists from around the country will be selected to present their entry for judging in the Appetizer, Entrée, and Dessert categories. The winners will take away more than $5,000 in award money, trophies, and the opportunity for their restaurant to spotlight the award-winning date recipe for a month at their establishment.
The professional blind judging takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. when the nine-member panel of chefs, food writers, and experts will taste and evaluate the finalists' entries, judging for best use of dates, originality, flavor, texture, and overall presentation for 100 possible points. Three judges in each category will determine First Place Appetizer, Entrée, and Dessert, and the top scoring in all categories wins Best of Show. The People's Choice Award is determined by guests' votes cast during the Gala Awards Ceremony.
Judges include Byron Vaughan, associate publisher for Santé, the Magazine for Restaurant Professionals; Donna Skidmore, Director of Dole Food Company's Consumer Services; Christopher Heath Stone, chef-instructor for Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute, Denver, Colorado; Executive Chef Bruce Jacobs of Bristol Farms, Henry Fenwick, author and food writer for The Desert Sun; Jackie Olden, author, chef, and host of Cooking with Jackie on KNWZ Radio; Donna Curran, Food Editor for Palm Springs Life Magazine; Maurice Bratt, host of KGAM Radio's Dishing with Maurice; and Joni Ravenna, host of Hello Paradise on KVCR Channel 9 television.
The event is open to the public from 2 to 4:30 p.m.. Tickets are $35 per person. During the Gala Awards Reception, guests are invited to sample all the entries, visit with the chefs, talk with Date Industry leaders, and vote for their favorite to win the People's Choice Award. Top entertainment is ongoing to make this a very festive afternoon.
Advance tickets are available at Shields Date Garden, corner of Jefferson and Highway 111 in Indio, or call for reservations at 760-347-4510, or purchase at the door the day of the event.
For more information about this competition celebrating the partnership between the Coachella Valley's tourism and agriculture industries, call 800-223-8748 or visit online at www.DatesAreGreat.com.
Best of Show 2007, Stuffed Pork Roulade, created by Chef Jose Luis Bravo, banquet chef at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.
Photography by Arthur Coleman