ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — For the third year in a row, Chef Miguel Morales and Chef Michelle Cantalupo of Foodtown/Food Circus Supermarkets have won the New Jersey Food Council’s Best Chef Cook-Off at the NJFC Trade Relations Conference last week at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City, NJ. Their creative culinary style, combined with the innovation, preparation, and flavors of each dish, gave them the edge to three-peat.
The prestigious challenge preceded the Food Council’s 2018 Trade Relations Conference, a popular trade industry event for food retailers and suppliers. Around 200 industry leaders heard Acme’s Dan Croce deliver the keynote address and provide his insights on the state of the food industry in New Jersey while the culinary heavyweights displayed their cooking talents.
Competing against the top supermarket chefs in New Jersey, Morales and Cantalupo won the cook-off for the third consecutive year. But they didn’t rely on old tricks to secure the victory.
The chefs wowed judges with Chiles en Nogada with a Sherry Walnut Cream Sauce. For dessert, Morales and Cantalupo prepared Red Velvet Pancakes with Blueberry, Mango, and cream filling.
The competition was held in the Viking Kitchen and Cooking School at Harrah’s Resort. This year’s participants included the defending Champions from Food Circus Super Markets, Chef Danny Arturo and Sous Chef Rocky Pellerito of ShopRite of Greater Morristown (Village Food Garden), Chef David Sparrow and Sous Chef Nicole Remo of QuickChek, and new contestants, Chef Paul Kapner and Sous Chef Portia Lashley of Community FoodBank’s Food Service Training Academy who all put up a noble effort in the cook-off. Given the tough competition, Food Circus Foodtown, which operates stores in Monmouth County, was ecstatic to have won the prestigious challenge.
“We believe in great quality and outstanding service,” said Cantalupo, who grew up cooking in her family’s restaurant. “Miguel and I have been a winning team for three years, cooking together for over 10, and we take our creativity from the stores to every catering and cooking experience we participate in.”
“We are thrilled to have so many of the state’s leaders in the food industry here with us in Atlantic City to discuss challenges, collaborations, and innovations of the food business,” said NJFC President and CEO Linda Doherty. “Dan provided an insightful presentation that brought a new perspective on the culture of retail strategies in the NJ marketplace. With Dan’s announcement of his departure from Acme, his last presentation as an NJFC Board Member will remain special to our association.”
That’s also true of the New Jersey Food Council. During the conference, the business association awarded Craig Coyle of Bimbo Bakeries the 2018 Max Stone Award, a distinguished honor given to those with an accomplished career in trade relations. Coyle, Senior Director of Sales, has spent decades in the bread business.