Vying for an all-expenses-paid trip to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, meetings and travel industry professionals met in a pitched kitchen battle at the second annual MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown, held Oct. 29 in Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena's professional kitchen.
The Showdown pitted winners of 16 previous regional competitions that were held across the U.S. and Canada, with Seattle's Lori Brennan, leadership development coordinator for Amazon, being crowned champion. Brennan combined her love of her hometown and sushi to create The Seattle Salmon Bowl, and said the dish is her family's version of fast food. Now that's a far cry from a roadside burger joint!
Brennan thanked MGM Resorts for the opportunity, and no doubt will be savoring her Feb. 25-28 trip to Miami.
“I want to thank MGM Resorts for the top-notch experience from start to finish," 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.”
Coming in second was Nancy Nachman, owner and chief connecting officer at Salt Lake City's The Meetings Concierge, for her Spanish-Style White Fish Stew dish.
Third place went to Maria Garcia, a Chicago-based events and incentive planner, for BCD Meetings & Events, for her Huarache de Sonora appetizer.
The 16 finalists went head-to-head and were judged by three of MGM's top Vegas 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 Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand.
Michael Dominguez, chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International, said the Recipe Showdown offered perfect synergy.
"Chefs have become the rock stars of our industry, and that's a shift from 15 years ago when you didn't think of chefs and F&B and hotels all in the same thought," he explains, adding that the series of competitions kept MGM Resorts in the social media spotlight for up to four months as the regional Showdowns commenced. "Our biggest challenge is combining the digital and physical worlds, and here we have something that's really a face-to-face event that is driven by social media, and gives us a unique opportunity to connect with our largest customers."
Remaining FinalistsYvette Barton, Fiserv, Atlanta; Mark Bice, HPN Global, Boston; Dawn Nickson, What a Way to Travel, Dallas; Kimberle Rupert, HelmsBriscoe, Denver; Rebecca Moreland Green, The Moreland Group, Indianapolis; Charles Chan Massey, SYNAXIS, Los Angeles; Cynthia Kramer, Aimia, Minneapolis; Helene Wein, HelmsBriscoe, New York City; Michele Hofer, DaVita Healthcare Partners, Philadelphia; Gigi Gleason, Autodesk, San Francisco; Jodi Spivak, MCI Group, Toronto; Karen Anne Massicotte, Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver, B.C.; Monica Robinson, National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, Washington D.C.
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