San Diego

Local Chef Tastes Victory at San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival’s ‘Chef of the Fest’ Competition

For the second year in a row, Grant Grill’s chef Mark Kropczynski won “Chef of the Fest” at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s Grand Tasting

ChefofFestWinner-SDBWFF2016-cROP
Courtesy of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

With a mouthwatering crispy salmon and eggs dish, one San Diego chef won top honors at this year’s “Chef of the Fest” competition at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, defending his tasty title.

Chef Mark Kropczynski, of The US GRANT Hotel’s Grant Grill, was crowned winner of the Nov. 18 cooking competition at The Grand Tasting – the main annual event of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

His victorious dish – pitted against artful creations from 24 other top local chefs – featured crispy salmon, salmon eggs, sugar-cured eggs and egg lemon curd. This was Kropczynski’s second consecutive win at the event. Last year, he won the title with a grilled lamb loin dish boasting pumpkin seed oil and fig vincotto.

His salmon and eggs dish also won the competition's seafood category.

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Kropczynski’s grand prizes included a feature in the 2018 “En Bouche Magazine” and in the spring 2018 issue of “DiningOut,” a round-trip airline ticket, $3,000 in cash, and other goodies like chocolate, beer and culinary tools.

The culinary competition was judged by the San Diego Chapter of the American Culinary Federation (AFD), along with guest judges including: Suzette Gresham, the San Francisco-based executive chef of Acquarello; Urs Emmenegger, executive Chef at Casa De Manana and President of the ACF Chefs and Culinarians of San Diego, Tommy Gomes, a fishmonger for Catalina Offshore; James Campbell Caruso, chef and owner of La Boca Tabera y MAS in New Mexico; Hanis Cavin, a chef at San Diego’s Carnitas’ Snack Shack.

The 25 contestants were narrowed to four finalists and four category winners, ranked on cumulative scores that looked at the presentation of their dish, flavor, innovation, quality and preparation in the allotted time.

While Kropczynski earned first place, he was joined in the winner’s circle by good company. Other top chefs included:

Second Place Winner
Todd Nash - The Blind Burro
Lengua Tacos | Wood Grilled Macha Marinated Beef Tongue | Salsa Macha | Pickled Vegetables | Spiced Candied Peanuts | Corn Tortilla 

Third Place Winner
Evan Cruz - Arterra Restaurant
Ukoy | Soft Shell Crab| Mussels | Shrimp | Sweet Potato 

Fourth Place Winner
Accursio Lota - Solare Ristorante
Porcini Mushroom Ravioli | Parsnip Root | Arugula Extract | Black Truffle Confit | "Almond Coffee Dirt" 

Meat Category Winner
Todd Nash - The Blind Burro
Lengua Tacos | Wood Grilled Macha Marinated Beef Tongue | Salsa Macha | Pickled Vegetables | Spiced Candied Peanuts | Corn Tortilla 

Poultry Category Winner
Trevor Chappell - The Barrel Room
Duck Confit Pupusa | Tea Smoked Duck | Port Salut Pupusa |"Burnt" Orange Gel | Crispy Skin | Watercress 

Seafood Category Winner
Mark Kropczynski - Grant Grill
Salmon and Eggs | Crispy Salmon | Salmon Eggs | Sugar Cured Eggs | Egg Lemon Curd

Vegetarian / Raw Category Winner
Accursio Lota - Solare Ristorante
Porcini Mushroom Ravioli | Parsnip Root | Arugula Extract | Black Truffle Confit | "Almond Coffee Dirt"

The annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is a showcase of the world’s premiere wine and spirits producers, chefs and gourmet food, with a spotlight on San Diego’s thriving dining scene.

This year, it was held Nov. 12 through Nov. 19, with many cool culinary events throughout the week, culminating with the Grand Tasting, which featured scrumptious samples from more than 150 wineries, breweries and spirits companies, plus bites from dozens of local chefs representing 60 of San Diego’s top restaurants.

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