CMAB To Host Cooking Competition Featuring California Dairy Products

Six west coast chefs will take part in the event that is focused on making Italian-style dishes using dairy products produced in California.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
Greg Sleter profile picture
California Milk Advisory Board logo

To highlight cheese and dairy products produced in California, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) will host its inaugural Global Flavors Culinary Competition featuring six west coast-based chefs.

This year’s competition, “A Taste of Italy”, will focus on developing classic and innovative recipes highlighting Italian-style dairy items from the Golden State.  

Six professional chefs will compete for $27,000 in cash prizes and recognition as a global culinary leader in a cook-off event at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif., on November 9.

“The diversity of California cheese and dairy items lend themselves well to global flavors and regional cuisines from around the world. California’s leadership in Mozzarella and Italian-style cheese production makes Italian cuisine an important area of focus for CMAB,” said Mike Gallagher, business and market development consultant for the CMAB.  “We appreciate the innovation and passion of our chef community and are excited to see how these acclaimed chefs use California cheeses to bring their recipes to life.”

The chefs for this year’s competition are:

  • Jay Adams, Local Kitchen, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Jose Gutierrez, Herbs & Rye; Cleaver, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Giuseppe Musso, Michael’s Downtown Italian Kitchen & Café, Long Beach, Calif.
  • Freedom Rains, a Mano, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Gustavo Rios, Solage Calistoga, Sonoma, Calif.
  • Ismaele Romano, Via Focaccia, Las Vegas, Nev.

Each chef will compete in two categories: Il Classico and Il Fresco. The Il Classico category will require chefs to develop an original entrée inspired by classic Italian cuisine commonly found on restaurant menus nationwide. The Il Fresco category will ask chefs to provide a fresh, new take on Italian cuisine, crafting an original appetizer or dessert that demonstrates creativity and innovation.

The six chefs will use Real California cheese and dairy products as central ingredients in their two recipes and present their dishes side-by-side to an esteemed panel of professional judges for evaluation, including:

  • Nick Barrington, executive chef, East Lake Golf Club, and president of the American Culinary Federation, Atlanta Chefs Association
  • Neil Doherty, corporate executive chef – senior director of Culinary Development, Sysco
  • David Kamen, former executive chef, and director - Client Engagement, Culinary Institute of America (CIA)

The judges will score each recipe and name a winner and runner-up in each category based on established criteria which includes:

  • Emphasis on Real California Cheese and Dairy
  • Commercial viability of the dish
  • Recipe innovation and creativity
  • Overall flavor profile and texture
  • Presentation

Each category winner will receive a trophy and $5,000 prize. Category runners-up will receive $2,500, and each remaining finalist will earn $1,500, per category. CMAB will feature chefs and recipe content in ongoing promotion of California cheese and dairy at foodservice