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16th Annual Chef’s Gala – A Celebration of Culinary Talent

More than 300 guests attended the 16th Annual Chef’s Gala event at the stunning Ranch House at SaddleBrooke Ranch on Saturday, January 19th.   This popular event, featuring a “Denim & Lace” theme this year, is spearheaded by George Atwell, Vice President of Food & Beverage for Robson Communities, Inc.   Atwell served as master of ceremonies for the evening.

The Chef’s Gala provides chefs and their teams from the Robson Resort Communities the opportunity to create a special dish in a competitive yet friendly environment.  Each participating chef had their main item selected at random back in November and were tasked with the preparation of a sample size dish to be served at the event.  Furthermore, the chef paired their dish with a specific wine to enhance the flavors of their creation.

In addition to the chef’s competition, the banquet and catering staff from participating communities designed beautiful tabletop arrangements, featuring a Denim & Lace theme.

Throughout the evening, guests sampled each community’s dish and wine, viewed the tabletop presentations and voted on their favorites.

For the tabletop presentation, Quail Creek was announced as the winner under the direction of Melissa Cueva and Daniel Pacheco.  Other beautiful tabletops featuring a Denim & Lace theme were presented by Heather Stanford – SaddleBrooke Ranch, Crystal Thomas – PebbleCreek and Heather Hardesty – Robson Ranch Arizona.

The highly coveted Chef’s Gala award went to Robson Ranch Arizona, for their delectable seabass dish prepared by Chef Jeff Coonce.  The award-winning Chilean seabass came with a wild mushroom risotto and lobster tarragon butter sauce, which was paired with a Napa Reserve Chardonnay. Sous Chef Mary Haynes assisted Chef Jeff with some of the menu details including cooking the fish sous vide and composing the delicious marinade.

Other crowd-pleasing favorites included:  SaddleBrooke Ranch (Chef Jose Salas) – Pan seared scallops, parsnip puree, apple caponata with a Lemoncello sauce;  PebbleCreek (Chef Mary Ahrens and Chef Robert Nixon) – Red wine  braised short ribs with root mash, vegetable medley and pickled onions; Robson Ranch Texas (Chef Aubrey Daniels) – Tournedos of duck Rossini with foie gras, boursin & bordelaise; Quail Creek (Chef Aris Cabrera) – Bacon wrapped venison, stuffed with lamb, pork, veal and Green Valley pecans, black risotto, red wine & pomegranate reduction, mache and watercress.