Safeway’s “Search For Our Next Chef” Competition Finals

This week is the finals for the 
Safeway Culinary Kitchens
Search For Our Next Chef Competition.
On May 16 in Safeway’s Culinary Kitchens in Pleasanton, CA the 3 finalists for the event will compete using 
The finalist were chosen after chefs from across the country competed in 
San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago. 
I was honored to be invited to attend the Seattle competition to see the chefs in action.  Safeway is making real strides in providing Gluten Free tags in all of their stores and with their Open Nature products you can be assured that they are 100% natural. You can find out more about Safeway’s Gluten Free products on their website.
Each chef prepared their original recipe for a commercialized skillet meal that will be sold to Safeway shoppers in the frozen food section of the store. 
1 hour was given to prep the meal. The ingredients were all fresh – mise en place ready to go.
30 minutes for cooking time, final assembly, plating and presentation.

As I looked on and watched the first chef begin, he was as cool as a cucumber.
Each chef was confident in their skillet dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The required ingredients for the meal – protein, vegetable, starch, sauce and garnish.
The products must be 100% natural, using Open Nature brand products 
and served in a single plate or bowl.
As the kitchen heated up and the steam wafted throughout the kitchen, 
I began to get hungry as I inquired about each dish. 
These meals are meant to be for the at-home chef and easy prep.
 At the end of the Seattle competition, the winner was …
Mary Keelan-Williams for her Greek Arrabiata Pasta with Sausage and Kale!
This dish is an easy prep or conversion to Gluten Free by using Gluten Free pasta! 
Open Nature Signature brand Sausage is GF and Kale … love it! 
I cook with all of these ingredients all the time! Way to go Mary! 
The finalists that are competing this week for the newest chef in the 
Safeway Culinary Kitchens and for the skillet meals are as follows  –

SAN FRANCISCO: Chanda Clark of Compton, Calif. who wowed the judges at the San Francisco and final cook-offs with “Chef C’s Family Chicken Creole” recipe.

CHICAGO: Dave Histed of Chicago who wowed the judges at the Chicago and final cook-offs with his “Thai Basil Shrimp with Curry Jasmine Rice” recipe.

SEATTLE: Mary Keelan-Williams of Peoria, AZ who wowed the judges at the Seattle and final cook-offs with her “Greek Arrabiata Pasta with Sausage and Kale” recipe.

All of the skillet meals sound really good!

Judges include –

Executive Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli, 
from the Food Network’s “Chopped” and “Iron Chef”
Jeffrey Anderson, 
Safeway’s Executive Chef Director of Culinary Innovation, Consumer Brands


Jim Seiple, 
Group Vice President of Research & Development Safeway Inc.

The winner will receive a full time position, starting in June 2012, working as a Culinary Chef in the state of the art Safeway Culinary Kitchens.  Their winning recipe will sold as an Open Nature Skillet Meal in stores across the country in early 2013.  The second place will receive $2000 and third place $1000 for their work.

To follow along on May 16th, go to Safeway’s Facebook page or on twitter follow the #SafewayChef stream.

Good Luck to all of the Chefs!


P.S. I’m secretly rooting for Mary! Goooo Mary! 

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