2014 Top Green Chef: Cooking for a cause

By Erin Philips

Erin Philips

Erin Philips

SAN DIEGO – What do you get when you combine delicious food, sustainable business, and charitable giving, spiced up with a little competition? Top Green Chef 2014!

On September 30, the Port of San Diego Green Business Network hosted its annual cook-off at the SDG&E® Energy Innovation Center. Now in its third year, the event is the only sustainable food competition in San Diego and is part of the Port’s efforts to support and promote green business practices.

This year’s chefs – Roy Hendrickson of Kona Kai Resort, Ricardo Jarquin of Hilton Bayfront, and Salomon Maciel of Hilton Harbor Island – were competing for donations to their favorite local community organizations. This year, Olivewood Gardens, Family Health Centers of San Diego, and Urban Angels will benefit from the chefs’ culinary creations.

In their quest to be named Top Green Chef, the chefs went knife-to-knife in two, twenty-minute cooking sessions using local and sustainable ingredients. In the first round, they tackled dragon fruit, broccolini, an assortment of yellow, red and purple potatoes, and fresh local rockfish. In the second round, they worked their magic on fresh lemon chili fettuccine, pattypan squash, burrata and local albacore.  Any of these creations can be prepared in a kosher kitchen.

Guests munched on gourmet hors d’oeuvres as they roamed the state-of-the-art, energy-efficient demonstration kitchen watching the chefs in action. Chef Ricardo was happy with the ingredients he had to work with. “When you have good quality ingredients, that’s half the battle right there,” he said.

After both rounds of cooking and tasting, the judges – Bob Nelson, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners, Sutti Sripolpa, 2013 Top Green Chef and Executive Chef of the Grand Hyatt, and Rosie Silva, a surprise guest judge from the audience – tallied up their points for taste, presentation and creativity and awarded Chef Salomon the title of Top Green Chef 2014.

Chef Salomon’s winning creations were a salad of greens, potato chips, and rockfish with yellow tomato chimichurri and soy sauce, and an udon-like pasta with leeks and Asian flavors including soy sauce, ginger, and harissa, topped with oven-roasted squash and seared albacore.

After the announcement, Chef Salomon was grinning, surrounded by family and friends offering their congratulations. “I’m still sweaty. It feels awesome,” he said. “It’s my first competition, so it’s great to be the rookie and win.”

With all the attention currently being placed on environmental challenges and ways to address them locally, nationally and globally – including among the Jewish community – Top Green Chef 2014 is a tasty addition to the cause.

Philips is  freelance writer specializing in the cultural and culinary arts.  She may be contacted via [email protected]

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