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    Del Monte Announces National Cook Off Winner

  • Industry News June 17, 2013

    Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. announces its “Find Your Inner Chef” National Cook Off winner. Kara Adanalian from Fresno, California, earned the title and the grand prize retreat for two to the Napa Valley Culinary Institute. The online contest, which launched April 15 and culminated with the national cook off, encouraged consumers to submit their own favorite recipe using Del Monte fresh fruits and vegetables.

    “To be the grand prize winner of the Del Monte Fresh Produce "Find Your Inner Chef" contest is not only a thrill but an honor, given the level of competition, judging, and event facility,” Adanalian says. “I'm at a loss for words to describe how happy I am, but there's a smile on my face that won't go away. Thank you Del Monte for providing such a great product and top-notch event! I'm very proud.”

    Kara’s winning recipe, Red Pepper and Avocado Stuffed Chicken Breast with a pastry gremolata and white wine reduction, received rave reviews from the judges. It was a competitive cook off as the four finalists competed in a face-off / bracket challenge type setting. The national cook off was held on the campus of The Miami Dade College Hospitality School – Miami Culinary Institute. Each aspiring chef prepared a dish from their social media-winning recipe that met certain criteria (for example, using specific Del Monte fresh produce or inspiring a certain taste). Each were given an hour to complete their recipes.

    “Congratulations to our Grand Prize winner, Kara! The cook off event was as exciting to witness as it was to judge the entire span of the contest from launch to today’s cooking competition,” says Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing, North America, for Del Monte. “We’re amazed at each finalist’s culinary skills and at their creativity in using specific ingredients such as our Del Monte fresh fruits and vegetables during this intense competition.”

    Judges based their final decision on the following criteria: creativity of the dish, taste of the Dish, use of Del Monte fresh fruits or vegetables in the recipe, and presentation of the dish. The winner from each bracket moved on to compete for the Grand Prize and coveted title.

    The “Find Your Inner Chef” Judges included Chef John Richards, CEC, CCA, CWPC, MBA, Miami Culinary Institute director; Jim Prevor, founder of Perishable Pundit; Lou Sena, president of SenaReider; Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO for Produce for Better Health Foundation; Libby Platus, Food and Travel writer.


    The entire event was filmed, photographed, and live streamed on

    The “Find Your Inner Chef” contest launched April 15, 2013 and culminated with the national cook off. The contest allowed daily winners an opportunity to cash in on culinary kitchen tools, tabletop appliances, gift cards, and more. To enter the contest, consumers had to “Like” and complete the pop-up registration form on Del Monte’s Fresh Produce Facebook page and submit a copy of their original, healthy recipe, using Del Monte fresh produce. All four finalist wins were the result of appeal of the recipe, use of Del Monte products and the number of “Likes” and tweets through social media.