Hyatt Good Taste Series Culinary Competition, Florida Caribbean bracket #GoodTasteTampa

Thursday, July 10, 2014
A few weeks ago, I had the honor to judge the Florida/Caribbean bracket of Hyatt’s inaugural Good Taste Series Culinary Competition at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.  This competition featured 11 up-and-coming chefs from Hyatt hotels across Florida and the Caribbean competed for a chance to move onto Hyatt's National Good Taste competition in Hawaii. This was an amazing experience.

Guided by Hyatt’s global food and beverage philosophy: Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served., each competitor used local ingredients, regional influences and healthy options to prepare three plates: one breakfast item, a lunch or dinner entrée and a kid’s meal. 11 chefs, 3 courses = 33 dishes. I tried each one of these beautifully presented dishes and I am not responsible if you end up licking your screen after reading this post.
I must admit - I am not a breakfast person. Not that I dislike breakfast, I do love a great brunch. However, I find myself opting for a fast protein shake in the morning vs. a hearty sit down meal. My game face went on instantly when I learned we would start with 11 breakfast dishes, 10 of which contained eggs (belly, I am sorry). Thank goodness for the talented chefs who participated in the event. To this day, I have no idea how I made it through course one and I still cannot eat a runny egg.
Top Left: Free Range Pork Tamale by Donald Ellison, Hyatt Regency Miami
Top Right: Broiled Eggs, Bacon Marmalade, French Toast Croutons, Baked Farmers Vegetable by Abhay Nair, Hyatt Regency Trinadad
Bottom Left: "Scotch Egg": Rosy Tomorrow's Farm Egg, Scott Bonnet Sausage, Florida Calloloo Emulsion, Plantain 'Maxim' by Noel Willhite, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
Bottom Right: Pulled Pork Hash and Eggs with Grilled Crostini, Peach Chutney and Fruit Ceviche by Peter Zemaitis, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa (my favorite breakfast dish of the day)
Top Left: Roasted Poblano Pepper Stuffed with Chorizo, Corn and Black Beans Hash, Refried Pinto Beans, Chipotle Lime Hollandaise, Sunny Side Up Egg by Michael Chong, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Top Right: Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Florida Whiskey Maple Syrup and Candied Pecans, Macerated Florida Peaches by Eric McBride, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Bottom Left: Baked Egg White Benedict, Gulf Blue Crab, Manchego Spinach, Corn, Canadian Bacon, Red Eye Hollandaise by Ian Goldman, Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Bottom Right: Blue Foot Puff, Organic Pork Sausage, Local Poached Egg by Cary Roy, Hyatt Regency Clearwater
Top Left: Corn Bread and Jalapeno Waffle with Crispy Organic Chicken, Collard Greens and Poached Egg with Yellow Heirloom Tomato Sauce by James Monahan, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville 
Top Right: Abuelita's Sweet Potato Hash, Sweet Potatoes, Green Peppers, Cilantro, Thyme and Cuban Soffrito by George Parra, Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
Bottom Left: Florida Breakfast Strata: Roasted Potato, Sweet Pepper, Asparagus and Gouda Cheese, Strata Heirloom Tomato Relish and Avocado Crema, Brioch Toast with Blueberry Lavender Jam by Raul Reveron, Hyatt Regency Orlando International 

We did not take a break between breakfast and lunch. I was texting my Mom during this short transition, telling her there was no way I was going to make it through another 22 dishes. She kept responding that my life must be so hard, lol. The only comparison I have to my mental state at this point is running a full Marathon. While I had 11 dishes down, we had 22 to go and this was a chance to eat dishes from multiple talented chefs. Time to get with the program belly!
Top Left: Cumin Spiced Glazed Lamb Chops, Peppered Polenta, Emulsion of Carrot and Green Pea, Garden Vegetables by Abhay Nair, Hyatt Regency Trinadad
Top Right: Tri Colored Ceviches: Ecuadorian: Whole Shrimp Ceviche in a Concase Tomato Spicy Citrus Sauce with Chives and Malanga Chips; Mexican: Mahi Ceviche Strips, Green and Red Jalapeno, Cilantro, Hass Avocado and Tomatillo with Julienne Corned Chips; Peruvian: Diced Grouper Ceviche, Aji Amarillo Leche de Tigre, Peppers and Onions with Cancha Serrana by Donald Ellison, Hyatt Regency Miami
Bottom Left: Florida Chowder: St Augustine Royal Red Shrimp, Cedar Creek Clams, Heart of Palm "Scallops" Young Coconut "Calamari", Coconut Bacon Dashi, Black Garlic, Pablano, Yellow Carrot by Noel Willhite, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point (and in my opinion, the winning dish of the day - WOW)
Bottom Right: BBQ Key West Pink Shrimp, Roasted Mango Jalapeno Salsa, White Cheddar Hominy Grit Cake by Peter Zemaitis, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa
Top Left: Spiced Diver Scallops, Thai Jumbo Lump Crab Salad, Roasted Peanut, Confited Shitake Mushrooms, Crispy Five Spice Bacon, Chili Vinaigrette, Green Onion Strings by Michael Chong, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Top Right: Pork Parquetta, Cheddar Grits, Local Red Mustard Greens and a Red Wine Reduction by Eric McBride, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Bottom Left: Mote Marine Sturgeon 2 Way: Seared Sturgeon, Forbidden Black Rice, Citrus Vanilla Scented Foam, Surgeon Caviar, Broken Tomato Meringues by Ian Goldman, Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Bottom Right: Olive Oil Poached Local Hog Nose, Veracruz Style, Olive Ricotta, Cured Pork Jowl by Cary Roy, Hyatt Regency Clearwater
Top Left: Fried Green Tomato and Crab Cake "Sandwich", Roasted Tomato Jam, Mango Salsa, Baby Mustard Green Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette by James Monahan, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville 
Top Right: Paiche with Coconut Saffron and Heirloom Tomato Salad, Lime Dressing by George Parra, Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
Bottom Left: Coriander-Fennel Crusted Petite Filet of Beef and Pickled Royal Red Canaveral Shrimp, Sweet Plantain Spheres, Blood Orange Sabayon, Balsamic Reduction by Raul Reveron, Hyatt Regency Orlando International 

22 dishes to down, 11 to go. That is what I had to keep telling myself at this point. We were 2/3 the way through this amazing culinary journey. The kids menu was the talk of the day among the judges. What were they going to present us with? How many chicken fingers would we see? Towards the end of this course, my psycho phone died and some of my photos didn't save (oddly enough, ones that were deleted were not the last ones I took).
Top Left: Quinoa and Caramelized Apple Slider with Swiss Cheese on a Whole Grain Roll, Fruit Pearl Salsa and Honey Roasted Clusters of Seeds and Nuts by Abhay Nair, Hyatt Regency Trinadad
Top Right: Kid's Mock Sushi: Bean Sprout and Grilled Chicken, Spinach Wrap with Shrimp and Mango, Lemon-Ponzu Papaya Sauce by Donald Ellison, Hyatt Regency Miami
Bottom Left: Banana Waffle: Gluten Free, Whipped Strawberry Yogurt "Push Pop" (think Flintstones Pop), Fresh Fruit by Noel Willhite, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
Bottom Right: Skewered Grape and Peanut Butter Powder, Peanut Butter Stick and Blueberry Gelee, Liquid Blueberry Ravioli with Peanut Butter Powder by Eric McBride, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress (my favorite kids dish)
Top Left: Organic Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese Pops: Cheddar and Mozzarella, Hidden Serving of Vegetables, House Made Ketchup by Ian Goldman, Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Top Right: Make a Wish "Peanut Butter and Jelly" Cake by Cary Roy, Hyatt Regency Clearwater
Bottom Left: 7 Grain Whole Wheat French Toast, Strawberry-Blood Orange Compote, Peanut Butter Honey Syrup by James Monahan, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville
Bottom Right:  Cornflake Crusted Chicken Asparagus Bites: Baked Chicken Wrapped Asparagus Spears, Cornflake Crusted with Carrot Ribbons, accompanied by Honey Mustard, Sweet & Sour Ketchup and Blueberry BBQ by Raul Reveron, Hyatt Regency Orlando International 

Photos missing from the Kids for Kids by Kids section:
Kids Chicken and Waffle Slider, Maple Celoute, Grilled Fruit Skewers by Peter Zemaitis, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa
Cheesy Turkey and Spinach Empanadas, House Mada Marinara, Crisp Kale Chips by Michael Chong, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
"Fish Sticks" Plantain Crunch, Mahi, Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus, Mango-Banana Salsa by George Parra, Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
Congrats to Chef Noel Willhite of Hyatt Regency Coconut Point who was crowned the winner of the Florida-Caribbean bracket of Hyatt’s inaugural Good Taste Series Competition. He will advance to the national competition, taking place on November 4, 2014, at the Andaz Wailea Maui. Along with advancing to Hawaii, Chef Noel Willhite, received a Shun knife, a year subscription to the food magazine or cookbook of his choice, a $500 American Express gift card and an all-expense paid trip to the national competition. The final winner at the national competition will receive an additional week of vacation, paid travel and accommodations to the Hyatt destination of choice within the U.S., Canada or Caribbean as well as bragging rights until next year’s challenge.

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