James Waller, Executive Chef of the Monterey Plaza Hotel has been crowned the winner of the 2008 Gilroy Garlic Festival “Garlic Showdown.”
Sponsored by Raley's and Nob Hill Foods. This year's secret ingredient was mushrooms with, of course, liberal use of garlic.
Waller, assisted by sous chef Saul Romero, prepared pancetta wrapped petite filet (of beef) with butter roasted Portobello mushrooms topped with garlic Parmesan gratin and red wine sauce; and wild mushroom and porcini mushroom and Parma ham stuffed chicken breast coated with Dijon mustard and rice flour, served over roasted corn/garlic/wild mushroom cream sauce.
The four-chef battle included another local entry, Mark Ayers of the Highlands Inn and Hyatt Regency Monterey, as well as Christophe Preyale of the Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club in Santa Rosa and Ryan Scott of San Francisco's Mission Beach Cafe. Action took place in front of an audience on the festival's famed Cook-Off Stage. They had one hour to prepare, plate and serve their creations to a select panel of judges Iron Chef style.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival announced an attendance of 107,553 for the three-day event which concluded July 27 at Christmas Hill Park. The figure represents an eight percent increase over last year.
Additionally, Festival revenue, which benefits over 160 local non-profit organizations, was up over six percent from 2008. Included in this amount was the sale of 10,618 servings of garlic fries on Gourmet Alley.