Guam Diner Bytes: MCA's Salon Culinaire 2015

by Ken Stewart
The Guam Food Guy

So much to do and so little time! That’s been my modus operandi these past few weeks as I’ve travelled back and forth to Saipan for business and to spend some time with my new bride! I am always asked, “how’s the married life?” Not too different than before since she still lives in Saipan! Hopefully things will all work out for her to get to Guam early next year.

There are so many more restaurants that have opened both on Guam and surprisingly on Saipan. In fact, Saipan will be seeing a tremendous amount of development in the next five-10 years! Guam will show steady growth as we prepare for the additional population growth from the military build-up.

Both Saipan and Guam will see new hotels opening, as well as numerous renovations as some of the older properties upgrade their facilities. These are exciting times for us here. There is still the issue of the shortage of skilled labor. That’s going to be the order of the day.

Of course, when it comes to the culinary, Guam has been doing extraordinary things as showcased in the recent Micronesian Chef’s Associations Salon Culinaire 2015, which was truly “The Battle of Mannge Town”!

Oct. 15 was an amazing day for the culinary arts on Guam. The competitions were numerous with a field of over 60 competitors, from the secondary school level to the Masters (jokingly called the “Manamko” chefs). There were three heats for the Junior Chef competition (Chefs 25 years & under, who are in a non-supervisory position) who were given a mystery box of ingredients and had to make a main dish with protein, vegetable and starch.

There were two heats for the Professional Chef category, and they had to make a main dish with protein, vegetable, and starch, served hot. Their competition was a “Black Box” competition, where the main ingredient (protein) is revealed five minutes before the start. That’s what was so exciting about the event - people were scrambling to get ingredients from the pantry (they had to use all of the ingredients in their black box.

The secondary students were two-man team entries, and there were four high schools competing. The Masters competition was a “chopped” style, which meant they only had 30 minutes to complete their dish, which had to be prepared from ingredients in their black box. The event was closed to the public and the media was invited. I was heading up the judges committee so I had the opportunity to see and taste firsthand the many creations entered by the chefs. The winners by division were:

Secondary School Competition
1st Place: Okkudu High School
2nd Place: John F. Kennedy HS
3rd Place: George Washington HS

Junior Chef Competition
1st Place: Rogerson Sula - Westin Resort Guam
2nd Place: Francis Olivares - Sea Grill
3rd Place: Jasmine Nadres - Hyatt Regency Guam

Professional Chef Competition
1st Place: Sandy Santiago, Executive Sous Chef, Sea Grill
2nd Place: Ernie Merfalen, Executive Chef, Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro
3rd Place: Scott Robertson, Chef de Cuisine, Hyatt Regency Guam

Master Chef’s Competition
1st Place: Paul Kerner, Chef Instructor, GCC
2nd Place: Simplicio Jr. Taga, Executive Chef, Pacific Islands Club
3rd Place: Rey Dasalla, Executive Chef, Sea Grill

Congratulations to all of the participants who made this a successful, well-attended culinary competition.

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