After launching a 4-year project in 2020 for the promotion of 6 food & agricultural industries of the Aegean region of Turkey, Turkish Tastes is expanding its presence in the Las Vegas Culinary scene. Partnering with Harrah College of Hospitality at UNLV and Nevada Restaurant Association, the organization has held a set of several cooking demonstrations and tasting events.
One of the 2021 highlights was the first annual Turkish Tastes Culinary Competition, where top chefs from the Vegas strip casinos, chefs/owners of catering companies battled for the title “Top Turkish Tastes Chef of Las Vegas”. The competition was an absolute feast for the eyes and tastebuds. In addition to the chef contestants, the list of the VIP guests were the VP of Food and Beverage Operations, The Cosmopolitan Hotel, National Account Managers from numerous vendors of Las Vegas, along with executives from UNLV, Harrah College of Hospitality.
In March 2022, the second annual Turkish Taste competition was held at UNLV Harrah College of Hospitality’s kitchen. Judges of this years’ event included celebrity chef Rick Moonen, Luciano Pellegrini, Michelle Vietmeier, and Lucio Arancibia.
Six chefs challenged one another to claim top Turkish chef of Las Vegas. This year’s winners were:
1st Place Winner – Gonzalo Garzo (Executive Room Chef/Chef de Cuisine, Palms Hotel.
2nd Place Winner – Oliver Culio Brown (Cook, The Henry’s, The Cosmopolitan Hotel)
3rd Place Winner – Noe Banuelos (Executive Chef, Agave Bar & Grill at Resorts World)
While the winners’ prizes were $1,500, $1,000, and $750 respectively, all chef contestants received certificates of participation, a master cook’s knife, and specialty Turkish food items.
VIP Guests for the 2022 culinary competition included:
Stowe Shoemaker (Dean of Harrah College of Hospitality at UNLV), Katherine Jacobi (President of Nevada Restaurant Association), Kazim Gurel and Ata Ozdemir (Board Members of Aegean Exporters Association), and major distributors serving the Las Vegas valley.
See the winning recipe from Chef Gonzalo Garzo:
Grilled Mediterranean Branzino served with dried Turkish fruits, red lentil succotash. (Click here to see the video on YouTube.)
All recipes can be found on Turkish Tastes YouTube Channel. (Click here to watch the list)
Turkish Tastes is looking forward to next year’s 3rd annual Turkish Taste Culinary Competition turning the concept into a tradition.