Guam Diner Bytes: Taste of the Marianas Professional Chef’s Competition Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan
The Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan’s junior chef team took home the $500 first prize and other prizes for beating six competing hotel teams in the 17th Taste of the Marianas Chef’s competition. Chefs Ed Gabito and Nestor Devera were quite surprised to hear the results announced, especially since they only created their dish that morning.
This year’s theme was Marianas Albondigas, which are meat balls, which had to be made using Certified Angus Beef Chuck Ground. The chefs also had to use local produce in their recipes.
Fiesta’s winning recipe was Tamales Beef Albondigas in noni salsa sauce, and included ground chuck, sausage, onion, cilantro, garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, and salt and pepper. The sauce included the chopped noni fruit along with mango cubes, red and green peppers, cilantro, onions and tomatoes.
The Albondigas were stuffed into masa harina dough, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed for a short period. Marianas Resort’s team won the $300 second place prize, and the Hyatt Regency Saipan’s team took home the $200 prize for third place. Hyatt Regency was the defending champion from last year.
This year’s competition had the largest field of contenders in many years. It was Kanoa Resort Saipan’s first time ever to compete. Other competing teams were from Pacific Islands Club, World Resort Saipan, and Aqua Resort Club.
Every team had created their own version of the Marianas Albondigas. As they do every year, the chef’s outdo themselves in building elaborate displays with fruit and vegetable carvings. The work is fantastic as was the taste of their Albondigas creations, which the eagerly awaiting crowd that swarmed the competition displays after the judging was completed confirmed by voting with their mouths!
Thanks to the teams and sponsors for this annual competition , which includes HANMI, MVA, and Triple J Five Star, who provide that fabulous certified Angus beef every year! If you have never attended a Taste of the Marianas International Food Festival and Beer Garden, it happens every Saturday in May, with the chef competition taking place on the final Saturday. It is a must-do if you are in Saipan during the month of May.