Temecula: The 11th Annual SOCAL Chef’s Open was a Delicious Success for the Oak Grove Center

Chef Matthew Steffen of Cork Fire Kitchen Wins the Pinnacle & The Chef’s Grille’s Chef Martin Corso Wins the People’s Choice Award

Last year’s winner Chef Martin Venegas(L) and Chef Matthew Steffen of Cork Fire Kitchen & Staff

Top Chef’s from around Temecula Valley competed at Pechanga Resorts and Casino Monday to help raise money to serve at-risk and special needs youth at the Oak Grove Center. The Chef’s creations dazzled, amazed and pleased the large crowd.

Chef Matthew Steffen of Cork Fire Kitchen won the prestigious Pinnacle award. His dish, Pork Rillettes with salsa verde, avocado, gooseberry, harissa, cilantro evolution, plantain, and hickory smoked olive oil  was amazing. He really “wowed” all of the judges and the large crowd of around 1.000 with the dish as well.

Second place was a tie. The Naughty Pig Butchery’s Chef Daniel Johnson and Chef Armando Cota of Avensole Winery shared the prize. Third place went to The Chef’s Grille’s Chef Martin Corso.

The Pinnacle Top Chef Award winner is selected by a panel of Chefs and food experts who judge for taste, creativity and presentation.

People’s Choice Winner Chef Martin Corso (R) and Barbara Cuyler

The People’s Choice Award was won by Chef Martin Corso. His fan favorite was created with the help of Chef Barbara Cuyler.

The Naughty Pig Butchery’s Chef Daniel Johnson took second place and Chef Dong Ho of Bamboo House placed third.

This year Chef Jennifer Sevilla of Crab Boil Catering, Devilicious Eatery’s Chef Kenneth Dankowere, Fazeli Cellars Chef Anthony Bartolotta, Chef Camille Alexander of Le Roche Catering, Le Grange Chef Robert Haney were also cooking up wonderful delicacies.

Also cooking up tasty creations were Chef James Weir of Ballast Point, Burgers & Beer’s Chef Luis Ortega, Chef Leone D’Arcangelo of Fresco Grill, Chef Josh Diamond of Meritage, and Shamrock Irish Pub & Eatery’s Chef Mandy Mathis.

Chef Jennifer Sevilla of Crab Boil Catering

The Trendy Chef’s Chef’ Steven Moore, Chef Oscar Parada of The Mill, Dinner by JR’s Chef J Rivas and Chef Vlada Vladic of Vlada’s Seeds of Life also served up some scrumptious delicacies.

Last year’s Pinnacle and People’s Choice winner Chef Martin Venegas from Pechanga’s Great Oak Steakhouse was on hand to present the awards. Venegas was also one of the judges this year.

Also on the distinguished judges list were Master Chef Ferdinand Metz, Chef Leah Di Bernardo of EAT-Extraordinary Artisan Table,

Executive Chef Daragh Matheson of Leoness, DiningOut San Diego Editor Josh Kopelman, The Inn at Europa Executive’s Chef Dean Thomas, 2016 Winner Chef and Chef Robyn McCoy.

The SOCAL Chef Open is held annually to help raise money for the Oak Grove Center in Murrieta. The event benefits the athletic programs at the Center which is a non-profit public school and treatment facility for at-risk and special needs youth.

The local Chefs and Restaurant owners all helped in making this years event a scrumptious, and the most financially successful Fundraiser for Oak Grove Center.

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Photos by Wendy Sanders