Lori Brennan, leadership development coordinator for Amazon, turned her family’s Seattle Salmon Bowl into an award-winning dish when she took first place in the second annual MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown in Las Vegas. Open to meeting planners, travel professionals and leisure partners, the competition was designed by MGM Resorts to showcase clients’ culinary talents and their favorite family recipes.

“The Recipe Showdown gave us a unique, fun vehicle to engage with our travel and meeting community throughout the year,” said Michael Dominguez, chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International. “The lively competition allowed colleagues to interact in a new way, bringing people together with the joy of food.”

Brennan earned her way to the finals in Las Vegas after winning Seattle’s Showdown, one of 16 regional cooking competitions held across the country and Canada between June and September. Combining Brennan’s two loves, Seattle and Sushi, the Seattle Salmon Bowl was created for her husband and is her family’s version of fast food. For her winning efforts, she received an all-expense-paid trip to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, February 25 – 28, 2016.

“I want to thank MGM Resorts for the top-notch experience from start to finish," Lori Brennan said. "This event was a really great opportunity to meet other people and share our passion for cooking. The whole thing really made my husband and I feel like part of the MGM Resorts’ family.”

Nancy Nachman, with The Meetings Concierge in Salt Lake City, won second place for her Spanish-Style White Fish Stew, and Maria Garcia, with BCD Meetings & Events out of Chicago, received third place for her appetizer, Huarache de Sonora. A digital cookbook with the 16 winning recipes from each city showdown will be available soon.

The finalists went head-to-head during the main event, held in MGM Grand Garden Arena’s professional kitchen, and were judged by three of Las Vegas’ top executive chefs, Royden Ellamar of the soon-to-open Harvest at Bellagio, Joshua Smith from BARDOT Brasserie at ARIA, and Steve Benjamin of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand.

“The Seattle Salmon Bowl was our top pick because the dish was simple and elegant," Chef Ellamar said. "The rice and salmon were cooked perfectly, and the flavors of each ingredient worked well to enhance the other. The sauce had the right amount of salinity, the radish sprouts added a hint of spiciness and the avocado provided the creamy richness we crave. Well done!”

MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown City Winners:

  1. First Place Winner: Seattle – Lori Brennan, Amazon
  2. Second Place Winner: Salt Lake City – Nancy Nachman, The Meetings Concierge
  3. Third Place Winner: Chicago – Maria Garcia, BCD Meetings & Events

Remaining Finalists:

  • Atlanta – Yvette Barton, Fiserv
  • Boston – Mark Bice, HPN Global
  • Dallas – Dawn Nickson, What a Way to Travel
  • Denver – Kimberle Rupert, HelmsBriscoe
  • Indianapolis – Rebecca Moreland Green, The Moreland Group
  • Los Angeles – August 20 – Charles Chan Massey, SYNAXIS
  • Minneapolis – Cynthia Kramer, Aimia
  • New York City – Helene Wein, HelmsBriscoe
  • Philadelphia – Michèle Hofer, DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc.
  • San Francisco – Gigi Gleason, Autodesk, Inc.
  • Toronto – Jodi Spivak, MCI Group
  • Vancouver, BC – Karen Anne Massicotte, Pacific National Exhibition
  • Washington D.C. – Monica Robinson, National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners