Mouth-watering scents filled the air, greeting the over 650 foodies, golfers and fans who converged on Pechanga’s Grand Ballroom on Monday night, Oct. 16 to meet, taste and vote on delectable and creative dishes from thirteen Southern California Chefs.
The tapa-sized tastings included everything from creamy corn-sautéed scallops with huitlacoche (Mexican truffle) to a twist on Hawaiian favorite Loco Moco, pork belly tacos, perogi, sushi, ravioli and other enticing creations.
Chef Amanda Martin from Leonesse Cellars, Executive Chef William Campbell from Monte de Oro winery, Executive Chef Josh Diamond from The Meritage at Callaway, Chef Leone D’Arcangelo from Fresco’s Trattoria in Bonsall, Chef Pietro Cinus from Trattoria Toscana in Temecula, Chef Kenneth Danko from Devilicious in Old Town Temecula, Chef Rudy Salazar from Tabu Sushi, Executive Chef Rosie O’Connor from Provecho Grill in Menifee, Chef Wayne Quintos from The Urban Catering Company, Executive Chef Daragh Matheson from Temecula Catering Company, Chef Jeerome O’Reggio from Journey’s End at Pechanga, Executive Chef Richard Bustos from Heart of the House Catering and Executive Chef Tony Nanci of Anthony’s of Murrieta all competed in the 8th Annual SoCal Chefs’ Open.
This year marked the first time a chef took away the top prize in both the Judges’ Pinnacle Award and the People’s Choice. Chef Rosie O’Connor of Provecho Grill, managed to do just that winning First Place in both categories. She won People’s Choice in last year’s competition as well.
O’Connor’s winning entry this year was Pollo Endogado, a bacon-wrapped chorizo-stuffed chicken breast with a four-cheese sauce, corn salsa and crushed walnuts.
The Second Place Pinnacle Award went to Chef Wayne Quintos from the Urban Catering Company in Canyon Lake. Quintos’ twist on Loco Moco substituted sous vide beef tenderloin in place of spam, with Porcini Mushroom Risotto, truffle cream gravy topped with a sunny quail egg, crispy shallots, micro arugula and shaved burgundy truffles and an Ahi Poke. Quintos also won Third Place in the People’s Choice category.
Chef Amanda Martin of Leonesse Cellars earned the Third Place Pinnacle Award with a traditional Yorkshire pudding with grass-fed Angus filet mignon, topped with fresh horseradish whipped cream, white pearl onions, sweet and sour pickled mustard seeds with a hand-crafted demi-glace.
The Second Place People’s Choice Award went to Chef Tony Nanci from Anthony’s Lounge & Ristorante who satiated many taste buds with his Porcini Crusted Anata, a tender duck dish with local pomegranate and VLR Sangiovese wine reduction served over blended cauliflower mashed potatoes.
This year’s celebrity judges included Steve Cazel from ”Cutthroat Kitchen,” Xiomara Hall from “Supermarket Wars,” last year’s pinnacle Award Winners Steve Bearse and Jeff Kirkland from New Life Culinary Creations and local columnist John Hunneman.
Featured Pastry Chef Robin McCoy of Robin’s Nest Dessert & Catering provided a variety of sweet desserts.
The 13th Annual Oak Grove Golf Classic got the ball rolling with a 10 a.m. shotgun start on the award-winning Journey at Pechanga course. The winning foursome was Jeff Richardson, Danny Meeks, Dave Hebrandson, and Richard Tomey with a score of 52 on the tough course. Second place went to John Randall, Howie Pence, Barry Kennelly and Dave Baker.
Course Contest winners included Courtney Sharkey for long drive, hole #1; Paul Miernicki for straight drive, hole #2; David Dizon on hole 15 and Tom Baker on hole 17 for closest to the pin; and Robert Jimenez in the putting contest. Golfers gave rave reviews of the “one of a kind” tournament for the unique ending as they headed into the main ballroom where they met spouses and friends for the So-Cal Chef Open competition.
Local Rotarian and Auctioneer Darren Deiss conducted a live auction for an Elux Electric Bike from Pedego Temecula, $3000 worth of flooring from Pacific Flooring and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in the Lexus Champions for Charity golf Tournament at pebble Beach on December 9-13. He later auctioned off a large bottle of VLR wine donated by Anthony’s which sold for $1000.
“The entire event raised $46,000 for Oak Grove’s CIF Division Sports and Recreation programs,” said Oak Grove CEO Tammy Wilson. “This supports our basketball, baseball, volleyball, cheer, dance, martial arts, and intramural activities. It could not have been done without the incredible support of our sponsors, Presenting Sponsor Lexus of Riverside, Chairman’s Circle Sponsor Der Manouel Insurance group, Silver Sponsor Pechanga Resort & Casino, Signature Sponsors Exit Alliance Realty and Jim and Jeannette Short, Bronze Sponsors Abbott Vascular, California Coast Credit Union, Chase Bank Temecula, First Citizens Bank Temecula, Lexus Champions for Charity, Murrieta Development, Pacific Western Bank Temecula, The Valley News, The Press Enterprise, Shamrock Foods, Temecula Valley Toyota and so many more.”
Many Oak Grove youth – impacted by the sports and recreation program – expressed their appreciation by participating as ambassadors to the guests. Culinary arts students contributed their skills – under the direction of Chef Robin McCoy – creating some of the delicious desserts.
Oak Grove Center for Education, Treatment & The Arts is a non-profit 24-hour residential educational and therapeutic treatment center located in Murrieta. They house and treat 76 at-risk children and serve 90-100 day students who attend its non-public school. Oak grove also operates a second campus, Oak Grove at the Ranch in Perris, CA that serves an additional fifty students. For more information, visit www.oakgrove.org.