Carrie Baird of Denver, Colo., Mary Grace Viado of Birmingham, Ala., and Brian Mullins of Miami, Fla. took home the top prizes in their category during the event at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia facility.
The Real California Milk Foodservice Team invited six culinary professionals, selected from 12 semi-finalists, to compete in the cook-off final that streamed live on the Real California Milk Foodservice Facebook channel. Two chefs faced off in each of three categories: Cheese+Mac, Cal-Mex, and Innovate To-Go, with the winners taking home $5,000 and runners up winning $1,500 each.
The dishes were evaluated based on factors including taste, innovation, and creative use of cheeses and dairy products made with California milk.
Cheese + Mac Winner: Skipjack & Cheesy Mac
Chef Carrie Baird is the owner of Rose’s Classic Americana in Boulder, Colo. Baird’s winning Skipjack & Cheesy Mac dish featured a variety of tastes and textures including four California cheeses, skipjack tuna, charred broccoli, peas and corn along with togarashi, sriracha and furikake seasoning.
Cal-Mex Winner: Mexi-Cali Shrimp Scampi
Chef Mary Grace Viado is the Corporate Executive Chef for the Village Tavern in Birmingham, Ala. Viado’s Mexi-Cali Shrimp Scampi included cubes of blackened California panela and cotija cheeses and served with homemade arepas made with California milk.
Innovate To-Go: Frico Pesto Melt
Chef Brian Mullins is the owner of Ms. Cheezious food truck in Miami, Fla. His dish put a spin on traditional grilled cheese with California mozzarella, cheesy pesto and a California Dry Jack cheese frico coating in his Frico Pesto Melt.
“The entire group of chefs is really the best of the best and brought so many innovative ideas for takeout that consumers would really crave. The winning dishes not only showcased California dairy in creative applications but also how cheese and dairy products as ingredients help elevate everything from comfort to Cal-Mex dishes,” said Bob Carroll, VP of business development for the CMAB.
“We’re thrilled to be able to amplify and celebrate the creativity of the foodservice community in this way.”