IACC revealed the winners of the U.S. Chapter stage of its global Copper Skillet culinary competition, following a competitive cook-off in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Seven chefs from IACC member properties across the U.S. gathered at the Kellogg Conference Hotel for the annual competition.

The chefs, who were presented with basic pantry items along with a "mystery basket" of proteins and other fresh grocery items, were given 15-minutes to prepare and 30-minutes to create and present their dish to the judges, Chef John Mooney, owner of Bidwell Restaurant; Kate Gibbs, senior manager at Destination DC; and Richie Brandenburg, director of culinary strategy at EDENS, a shopping center developer and operator.

Following the competitive challenge, Brian Wagner, Chauncey Conference Center, Princeton, New Jersey and Shane Hawkins, Stonewall Resort, Roanoke, West Virginia, were announced winners of the Senior and Junior U.S. Chapter cook-off categories respectively, meaning they now qualify and advance to stage two of the competition, the Americas Chapter, taking place at the Summit Executive Centre in Chicago on March 1.

The Winning Dishes

Wagner took the Senior Chef Champion title with a dish containing seared trout with roasted fennel, charred shallot, crispy chicken thigh and orange. Hawkins cooked up a winning dish of roasted tomato grits, mustard seared filet with red wine poached mushrooms, and crispy trout with lemon and thyme.

“Once again, we’ve been blown away by the level of culinary expertise within our industry,” said IACC CEO Mark Cooper. “The Copper Skillet competition saw some of the best chefs, from across our member venues in the U.S. compete head to head for the ever-popular accolade. I congratulate Brian and Shane on their achievement in this heat, and wish them luck at stage two of the competition in March.”

“Food is such an important element of everything we do,” added IACC Americas President Sean Anderson. “I’m proud to see IACC chefs entertain the audience with a terrific display of creativity, passion and talent! I congratulate all the chefs for being part of this special event.”

What's Next for the Winners

Winners of stage two, the Americas Chapter in March, will go on to compete against the winners of the Europe and Australia Asia Pacific Chapters, all three Chapters will go head to head to win the prestigious Global Copper Skillet Award, at the competition final which takes place in April in Philadelphia.

The Copper Skillet competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference venues around the world and give recognition to their contributions.