For twelve weeks, Crater Lake Vodka and Fixtures Living in Rancho Mirage have brought us the valley’s first major cooking competition, featuring the best chefs the Coachella Valley has to offer.  Each week we watched these talented chefs compete, offering incredible delicacies and showing off their expertise for increasing crowds.  It was a pleasure to be a part of the experience, judging each event until our final competition last Wednesday where we finally declared a winner.

Our final competition included our top five chefs from the weekly event.  The restaurants that were represented this final week were Solano’s Bistro in Old Town La Quinta, Capri Restaurant in the Miracle Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs, Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Palm Desert, La Brasserie Bistro and Bar in La Quinta and Circa 59 in the Rivera Resort and Spa in Palm Springs.  Each of these chefs showed us incredible talent, while having fun entertaining spectators that attended each week.  Local DJs, Bradley Ryan and Bob O’Brien emceed the event while offering raffle prizes from cookware to spa treatments.  What a success!

While each chef showed amazing talent, we could allow but one winner.  The bottom three chefs, in no particular order, would be Chef Anthony Santucci of Capri, Chef Jesse Souza of Circa 59 and Chef Kevin Favinger of Sullivan’s.  These professionals are worthy of the recognition they’ve received and more!  Our runner up was Chef Paco Solano of Solano’s Bistro and our winner is Chef Emmanuel Janin of La Brasserie Bistro and Bar.  The winning dish was a “Surf, Turf & Air” plate that included Pink Snapper on a bed of fennel and vodka risotto with a green Gaspacho Sauce, sliced Veal Tenderloin with French lentils and figs with a bacon vinaigrette and a Bone-In Beef Tenderloin, crusted with coffee and pepper, served with a hazelnut demi glaze and sautéed Swiss Chard.  This amazing dish will be featured in a congratulatory wine dinner later this month.  See their advertisement in this issue of the CV Weekly for more details.  Make your reservations and I will see you there!

While this event has come to an end, next year’s Chef Challenge is already in the works!  Until then, be sure to see why these chefs are deserving of the credit they have received by visiting these amazing restaurants right here in our valley and look for upcoming reviews of these culinary works of art in our Pampered “Palette” column each week.


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