Hyatt will crown its third Good Taste Series champion this weekend, as finalists from 12 of the brand’s properties in the United States and Mexico battle for the title at Hyatt Regency Mexico City.
The Good Taste Series—which we featured in our January/February 2016 cover story—is open to all non-executive chefs across more than 100 Hyatt full-service properties in the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. About 90 cooks competed earlier this year in regional finals, resulting in these remaining 12 for Saturday’s showdown:
- Joshua Hlubiak – Hyatt Regency Cambridge – New York Regional
- Ricardo Raynor – Hyatt Regency Boston – Boston Regional
- Adam Schaffer – Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay – Atlanta Regional
- Andrea Pang – Hyatt Regency Phoenix – Manchester Grand Regional
- Mika Di Paolo – Hyatt Regency Waikiki – San Francisco Regional
- Jennifer Yoo – Hyatt Regency Atlanta – Grand Tampa Regional
- Travis Joy – Hyatt Regency Wichita – Hill Country Regional
- Sylvain Tonello – Hyatt Regency New Orleans – Washington Regional
- Ritchard Cariaga – Andaz Wailea – Hawaii Regional
- Matthew Rabelhofer – Hyatt Regency Denver – Newport Beach Regional
- Manuel Soto – Hyatt Regency Mexico City – São Paulo Regional
- Patrick Clark- Hyatt Regency O’Hare – Chicago Regional
Each contestant will make two plates: A sustainable seafood dish, and one following Hyatt’s F&B philosophy of “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served”. There are also surprise ingredients that will be added before the competition. Last year, each contestant had to include a PepsiCo product, and a Hormel product in their final dishes–both companies help sponsor the event.
Finding and keeping top kitchen talent continues to be a major issue throughout the industry. Those at Hyatt say the Good Taste Series has reduced their kitchen staff turnover by approximately 10% since 2014 through engaging and recognizing the culinary creativity of their up-and-coming cooks, rather than just highlight the efforts of their property executive chefs.
Six of the 12 finalists from 2014 have since been promoted within Hyatt, and two former contestants are now executive chefs:
- Matthew Garelick from the Grand Hyatt New York finished third in 2014’s Good Taste finals–he’s now Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Jersey City
- Jonathan Felix from Hyatt Regency Mexico City won last year’s Good Taste finals in Cabo San Lucas, and is now Executive chef at Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara
I’m honored to be one of the judges for the Good Taste finals again this year (I was a judge in Cabo last year as well) and I’ll be in Mexico City this weekend to see who emerges champion. Stay tuned for a wrap-up of the Good Taste finals and the winning dishes next week.