2018 Chefs Taste Challenge Winners Announced

NEW ORLEANS – Chef Justin Ross of Peche Seafood Grill, New Orleans, was named Champion at the 4th annual Farm & Table Chefs Taste Challenge (CTC), which took place September 7, 2018 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. His winning creation was Chili Tuna with Zucchini Ratatouille and Tonnato Sauce.

Chef Melissa Donahue-Talmage of Sweet Melissa’s Café, Sanibel, FL won the “Fan Favorite,” as decided on by the attendees, for her dish, Team Beef Cheek and Baby Kale.

Team NOLA achieved victory over Team Gulf Coast. Team members included:

Byron Bradley
Consultant, Dooky Chase, New Orleans, LA
“Cochon De Lait served with My Momma’s Biscuits”
Donated Products: Hatch Chile Peppers – New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Matthew Guillory
New Orleans School of Cooking, New Orleans, LA
Bayou Saltimbocca
Donated Products: Breadfruit – Hawaii Department of Agriculture & Hawaii ulu Coop

Justin Ross
Peche Seafood Grill, New Orleans, LA
Chili Tuna with Zucchini Ratatouille and Tonnato Sauce
Donated Products: Tuna – Louisiana Seafood Board; Green and Yellow Squash – Texas Department of Agriculture & Sunburst Farms

Roseann Rostoker
Red Gravy, New Orleans, LA
White Christmas Ragu
Donated Products: Sweet Potatoes – Capitol City Produce

Team Gulf Coast:

Brandon Burleson
Plow & Anchor, Georgina, AL
Venison NY Strip and Jackfruit Gumbo
Donated Products: Jackfruit

Chris Motto
Mansur’s on the Boulevard, Denham Springs, LA
“The Baton Rouge Two-Step” (Shrimp and Collard Greens)
Donated Products: Shrimp – Louisiana Seafood Board; Collard Greens – Georgia Department of Agriculture &Baker Farms

Melissa Donahue-Talmage
Sweet Melissa’s Café, Sanibel, FL
“Team Beef Cheek and Baby Kale”
Donated Products: Baby Kale – Indiana State Department of Agriculture & Growing Green Indiana

James Versfelt
Shelborne Hotel, Miami, FL
Black Drum Boulettes and Hearts of Palm Salad
Donated Products: Drum filets – New Orleans Fish House; Hearts of Palm – Hawaii Department of Agriculture and Wailea Ag Group

The eight competing Gulf Coast chefs were challenged to create the best dish that utilizes farm-fresh items from a pantry of both seasonal local ingredients and products donated by State Agricultural Departments. Each attendee received a tasting portion of the chefs’ creations.

The dishes were judged by a panel of industry-renowned judges including Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, The James Beard Foundation; Chef Hari Pulapaka, Chef/Owner of Cress Restaurant, DeLand, FL, and 2015 Chefs Taste Challenge Winner; Chef Kaimana Chee, winner of the 2017 Chefs Taste Challenge; and Chef Kimberly Brock Brown, Author and Certified Pastry Chef in Charleston, SC.

Chefs Taste Challenge Sponsors generously donated additional products for the event: Organic Wine – Bonterra; Beer – Lazy Magnolia. A portion of each ticket sold went to Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, a program dedicated to teaching school-aged children how to cook and grow their own meals.

The Chefs Taste Challenge is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event is held in conjunction with Farm and Table NOLA, taking place September 7-8, 2018 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The Farm and Table Experience, an educational conference with industry experts on the most pressing issues facing the agri-culinary community took place on September 7, and the FAMboree, a free festival for foodies, farmers and family fun will take place September 8. Farm and Table NOLA explores the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. For more information on Farm and Table, please visit farmandtablenola.com.

Website and Social Media Links:

Website: chefstastechallenge.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChefsTasteChallenge

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chefstastechallenge

Instagram: @chefstastechallenge

Hashtag: #CTC18


Jeff McClellan, Sous Chef of 2018 Chefs Taste Challenge Champion, Chef Justin Ross of Peche Seafood Grill, New Orleans, and Fan Favorite, Chef Melissa Donahue-Talmage of Sweet Melissa’s Café, Sanibel, FL, with her Sous Chef, Thomas Juneau.