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Ramon-Solorzano-Garden-Fresh.gif Jason Kindig

Solorzano crowned, but kids real winners in Kitchen Hero Cook-Off

This is part of Nation’s Restaurant News' special coverage of the 2019 MUFSO conference, taking place Oct. 14-16 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. Follow coverage of the event on and tweet with us using #MUFSO. Stay connected on the go by downloading the MUFSO app.

Fielding a grilled lamb loin with mole in the Texas Pete Kitchen Hero Cook-Off, Ramon Solorzano of Garden Fresh Restaurants bettered three rivals in the 7th Annual mystery-basket competition conducted at MUFSO.

“Chef Ramon was able to use lots of Texas Pete ingredients and layer them to build really delicious complex flavors,” judge Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer, vice president of culinary and menu strategy at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, said of Solorzano’s winning entry. Solorzano, Garden Fresh’s director of culinary, served his lamb on a potato polenta and topped with blistered green beans and bacon.

As is the tradition for the timed, on-site contest benefitting the non-profit Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign, Solorzano, whose company operates the Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation salad buffet chains, donated his $10,000 prize to that program.

“700,000 kids in need were provided a meal,” Dan Plunket, vice president of foodservice for Texas Pete parent T.W. Garner Food Co., said of the impact of the annual cook-off over its seven-year run with $10,000 yearly grants.

The other competitors in this year’s event were Luis Haro, director of culinary for Logan’s Roadhouse, James Rogers, director of culinary at Tony Roma’s, and Mike Turner, senior vice president of culinary and supply chain for Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar.

Jason Kindigtexas-pete-kitchen-hero-cookoff.gif

Texas Pete Kitchen Hero Cook-Off competitors Luis Haro of Logan's Roadhouse, James Rogers of Tony Roma's, Ramon Solorzano of Garden Fresh and Mike Turner of Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar

Besides Spillyards-Schaefer of Cracker Barrel, this year’s roster of judges also included Michael Cox, manager of culinary and category product development at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Paul Griffin, executive vice president of culinary and R&D for BurgerFi International, and Joel Reynders, vice president of culinary at Tijuana Flats.

For their entries, Haro of Logan’s Roadhouse submitted a bacon-wrapped duck with a honey mustard glaze and tomato tapenade, while Tony Roma’s Rogers offered up a smoky Sriracha Barramundi with honey-mustard broccolini. Turner of Walk-Ons’ cooked up a seared beef tenderloin with sauce piquante and cauliflower rice pilaf.

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @AJ_NRN  

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