Anticipation was in the air as members and friends gathered in Hamilton last Thursday evening for the 10th Annual SummerFest mixer and 2nd Annual TOP CHEF competition. Set in the intimate spanish-style outdoor courtyard at , attendees were treated to tropical-fusion themed fare from six local restaurants and caterers: , , , , ETC Catering, and last year's defending champion, .
Sponsored by Novato Women In Business, the festive competition showcased a variety of sample offerings from each venue, as guests meandered freely between competitor's booths for tastings. Chefs took the competition seriously, putting their considerable experience and kitchen expertise to the test in presentation, uniqueness of recipe, and of course, "yum" factor.
Guests clearly enjoyed their roll as well, voting to determine the winner of the event while basking in the warm summer evening with entertainment provided by Portable Party Crew West and Polynesian dancer, Moi Hardman.
When all the votes were counted, it was defending champion Susan Lustenberger of White Rose Ranch who walked away with the title and honorary toke for the second year in a row. Susan curried TOP CHEF raves for her Polynesian Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Caribbean Shrimp and Mashed Potato Shooters, Peach-Pineapple Cobbler with Coconut Infused Cream, and Chocolate-Kahlua Cake.
Located in a tiny storefront at 902 Grant Ave., around the corner from Sentimental Journey in downtown Novato, White Rose Ranch features delicious, locally sourced southwestern cuisine with a distinctly southern influence--a nod to Lustenberger's roots. Weekly pre-ordered, fix-menu dinners are available Tuesday-Friday for pick-up at the store between 4-6:30 p.m.. Lunch is offered Wednesdays only from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. White Rose Ranch (www.thewhiteroseranch.com) is also available to cater your next business or social event. Call 415-246-1981 to pre-order lunch/dinner or schedule catering.
Coming in a close second was long-time Novato institution Hilltop Restaurant 1892 (www.hilltop1892.com). Executive Chef Nicolas Abrams presented his original take on the tropical fusion theme with Coconut-Mango Shrimp cups, Tropical Margarita Popsicles, and Raspberry-Mango Tiramisu. The Hilltop 1892 is located at 850 Lamont Ave. in Novato and offers delicious food with a gorgeous view of the surrounding hills and city. Call 415-893-1892 for reservations or information.
Garnering third-place kudos was Chef Terry Eberle of CaterMarin in San Rafael. Terry's presentation of Spicy Cucumber & Pineapple Salad and Tender Beef on Maui Onion Rolls with Zesty Orange Aioli was another crowd favorite. Visit www.catermarin.com or call 415-892-2777 for more information on their catering services.
Other noteworthy standouts included ETC Catering's mini Key-Lime Tartlets (www.etccatering.com), Forks and Fingers' Ahi Tuna Bites on Crispy Wontons with Cilantro-Ginger Aioli (www.forksandfingers.com), and Muscio's Bay Shrimp Flatbread with Mascarpone and Tropical Salsa (www.muscios.com).
The evening culminated with the presentation of the Novato Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Leadership Award to Coree Cameron of Cameron, Coffey & Kaye in Bel Marin Keys, for inspiring local business women to achieve success.