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For a complete list of Harvest Fair food competition winners, go to harvestfair.org/winners/food.

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair Professional Food Competition has announced this year’s the winners, including the coveted appetizer category, which proved to be more creative and global than ever.

From South American empanadas and Mexican taquitos to Italian meatballs and French duck confit, the judges were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the flavors and the high quality of the presentations.

“There was a lot of creativity this year,” said Anne Vercelli, coordinator of the competition. “The Best of Show appetizer was a prosciutto cup filled with goat cheese mousse. It was just screaming to have a glass of sparkling wine. It was small and stimulating to the palate … the essence of what an hors d’oeuvres should be.”

That dish, entered by chef/owner Bethany Barsman of Out to Lunch catering in Petaluma, also won Best Use of Pork.

The fall appetizer derived a flavor boast from a sweet and savory sauce that blended La Crema Pinot Noir with honey and blackberry compote.

“I reduced the pinot, and added the honey after it started to get thick,” Barsman said.

“I love those two flavors together, and then blackberries are a great combo, so we put blackberry compote with the sauce.”

In the appetizer category, Out to Lunch also nabbed several other big award, including Best Use of Cheese for their Creamy Tomato Soup, a shooter topped with a small grilled cheese sandwich made with candied bacon, white cheddar, and apricot preserves on brioche bread.

Out to Lunch also won Best Use of Poultry for a Mexican-inspired dish: Marinated Grilled Chicken with chimichurri, cabbage and crema, wrapped in a fried wonton wrapper instead of a tortilla.

“I liked the grilled chicken in the wonton shell … it made it taste lighter and crisper,” said Judge Deidre Francis of Simoncini Vineyards in Healdsburg.

Finally, one of Barsman’s favorite appetizers won Best Use of Vegetable/Fruit: a Locally Harvested Wild Mushroom and Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Empanada with Spicy Aioli.

“We love goat cheese,” she said.

Peloton Culinary & Catering of Healdsburg won the Sweepstakes Awards for Appetizers, entering more than a dozen hors d’oeuvres that garnered the most overall points.

The company, run by chef/owner Tim Vallery with Chef de Cuisine Patrick Tafoya, entered a wide range of seasonal bites that ranged from a Chilled Corn Vichyssoise and Stuffed Heirloom Tomato “BLT” to a Smoked Coho Salmon Tartare and a Potato “Risotto” Gratin.

“We wanted to do a representation of what we do,” Vallery said.

Peloton won Best Use of Beef for their 48-Hour Sous Vide Angus Beef Brisket Slider and Best Use of Sonoma County Wine for their Cremini Mushroom Bisque with Black Pepper Zinfandel Essence.

“Soups made a statement in the competition,” Vercelli said.

“And the use of local products was high, from cheeses like Vella, Point Reyes and Laura Chenel to local bread, honey, heirloom tomatoes and mushrooms.” Here are the other big winners in this year’s competition:


BurtoNZ Bakery of Windsor was the winner for the Sweepstakes Exhibitor, taking home the Best of Show French Bread for their Old World Sourdough as well as the Best of Show Specialty Bread for their Kalamata Olive and Asiago Sourdough.

For a complete list of Harvest Fair food competition winners, go to harvestfair.org/winners/food.

Cake and Pastry

Keeping their winning streak going, Oliver’s Market of Santa Rosa blew out the competition, claiming the Sweepstakes Cakes/Pastries Exhibitor award, Best of Show Cake/Pastry for their Naked Chocolate Mousse Cake as well as Best of Show Decorated Cake for a Red Velvet/Chai Mousse Cake.

“Chocolate had a presence this year,” Vercelli said. “Flavored cheesecakes were also popular.”

Individual Desserts

The Sweepstakes Dessert Exhibitor award also went to Oliver’s Market, who earned Best of Show Dessert for their Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart.

Simply Strudels of Petaluma took home Best Use of Local Products for their Meyer Lemon Cheese Strudel. And BurtoNZ Bakery snagged best of Show Cookie for their Brown Butter Sugar Cookie.

“It had a depth of flavor and richness,” Vercelli said. “They brought a simple cookie to a higher place.”

Rainy Day Chocolate of Santa Rosa earned Best of Show Candy for their Zebra Dark & White Chocolate Layered Truffle.


Out of 32 entries in the Regular Coffee Division, Retrograde Coffee Roasters of Sebastopol won Best of Show Coffee for their Yirgacheffe Bedhatu Jibicho Ethiopia coffee.

Dairy Products

Best of Show Cheese Product went to Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery of Sebastopol for the Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Cheddar.

Dave’s Gourmet Ice Cream of Santa Rosa took home Best of Show Other Dairy Products for their Espresso Ice Cream.

“There were all kinds of ice cream flavors this year,” Vercelli said. “We saw vanilla, raspberry, caramel, mint chip, banana and avocado.”

Delicatessen & Sauces

Oliver’s Market earned another top award — Best of Show Delicatessen — for their Alive and Healing Maple Glazed Tempeh Salad.

Emily’s Kitchen of Santa Rosa won Best of Show Sauce/Topping for their Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce.

Olive Oil & Vinegar

B. R. Cohn Olive Oil Company in Glen Ellen won Best of Show Vinegar for its B. R. Cohn Pear Chardonnay Vinegar and Best of Show Olive Oil for its B. R. Cohn California Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Arbosana, Arbequina, Koroneiki.

Winners will serve their award-winning products and dishes at the reception for the Harvest Awards Dinner at 4 p.m. Sunday Oct. 1, at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts ($125 for tickets); and at the Grand Tasting at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair Oct. 6-8 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds ($65 per day, or $140 for three days, includes wines, craft beers and ciders.)

For a complete list of winners, go to harvestfair.org/winners/food.

Staff writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56.

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