Hy-Vee Inc.'s Elizabeth Davis was crowned the Grand Champion of the Food Marketing Institute's (FMI) Supermarket Chef Showdown competition for her Yu Sheng Citrus Salad Platter for Chinese New Year.
Davis's winning dish – which enabled her to win an expense-paid culinary immersion program for two at the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy – was one of five categories included in the supermarket chef competition, which was held at FMI's annual industry Connect confab in Chicago. Now in its third year, the culinary competition attracted a record 300 recipes from supermarket chefs across the country. Fifteen chef finalists competed across five categories in front of a live audience on the exhibit floor of FMI Connect.
Food personality and 13-time James Beard Award winner, Steve Dolinsky, also known as “the Hungry Hound” from ABC 7, acted as master of ceremonies for the event.
The chefs’ culinary creativity was tested as they prepared dishes in less than 25 minutes featuring products from Supermarket Chef Showdown sponsors, including McCormick & Company. Judges on the cook-off panel included Susan Westmorland, food director of Good Housekeeping at Hearst Magazines, Pat Cobe, senior editor of Restaurant Business Magazine, and Chef Philip Watson, executive chef at Green Acres Country Club in Northbrook, Ill.
“Most of the time, we think about restaurants and celebrity chefs as the drivers of culinary trends,” said Dolinsky. “But the fact of the matter is that supermarket chefs are the talent behind the wide variety of delicious food that feeds millions of Americans every day. I’m so proud to be part of an event that highlights their significant contributions. These chefs are so impressive."
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin, who presented Davis with her coveted award, added: "As we all know, food is the great connector – bringing people together – and that is true even within a cooking competition."
One winner was named for each category in the competition and was awarded a $1,000 cash prize. These winners included:
- Breakfast on the Go – Amy Gleason, chef at Hy-Vee, Inc., for her Cinnamon-Scented Farro Breakfast Parfait
- Holiday Platters – Elizabeth Davis, chef at Hy-Vee, Inc., for her Yu Sheng Citrus Salad Platter for Chinese New Year
- Ethnic Dishes – Dustin Miller, chef at Giant Eagle Market District, for his Korean-Braised Short Ribs
- Family Meals on a Budget – Jason Miller, corporate executive chef at Balducci’s Food Markets, for his Turkey Meatloaf “Provencal” with Sweet Potato Hash and Arugula Salad
- Dessert – Bryan Williams, chef at Hy-Vee, Inc., for his Red Curry and Coconut Bread Pudding
“We are pleased to offer classes at the Italian Culinary Institute to this top supermarket chef,” said Sarasin, noting that the opportunity "will expand [Davis's] professional knowledge and further develop skills to inspire more and more creativity in the prepared foods case. Food shoppers will be the ultimate winners.”
Sponsors of the FMI Supermarket Chef Showdown included: McCormick & Co.; Campbell Soup Co.; The Hershey Co.; Hillshire Brands; The J.M. Smucker Co.; Mondelez International; and The Pictsweet Co. In-kind donations were provided by Good Cook, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations and Lowe Refrigeration.