Chef Wars Still Raging at Genentech

In white, left to right: Cook John Pantonial, Executive Chef Jorge Sanchez, Executive Chef John Koyanagi, Sous Chef Oscar Vasquez, Executive Chef Laurent Vaily, and Sous Chef Cristian Abea raise their hands in sweet victory along with Director of Operations Yoel Cohen, Senior Vice President Cary Wheeland, District Manager Steve Ganner, Genentech Senior Benefits Analyst Sharon Cerini, and Regional Vice President Rob Kvitek

For the fourth consecutive year, Genentech chefs went to war…with each other.

Team A’s creations, counterclockwise: Spot prawn with blackberry kombucha syrup and shaved asparagus salad; dragon fruit crisp with quinoa crumble; and seared ribeye with black garlic, poached egg, and cauliflower purée

The 2017 edition of Chef Wars presented a cutthroat culinary competition among 18 chefs from the South San Francisco cafés split into three teams. Director of Operations Yoel Cohen and Executive Chef Jenem Martin selected the mandatory ingredients, which this year included grass-fed beef, spot prawns, eggs, lemongrass, black garlic, cauliflower, dragon fruit, and kombucha. (Chefs were permitted to use items from the kitchen as well.)

Each team had one hour to prepare an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Highlights of the resulting dishes included a silky, elegant cauliflower soup and a dragon fruit dessert soup that featured “water ganache” made with kombucha.

The highly prized Chef Wars plaque

Judges included Bon Appétit Regional Vice President Rob Kvitek, Senior Vice President Cary Wheeland, and Genentech Senior Ben- efits Analyst Sharon Cerini. The winning team — Executive Chef Laurent Vaily, Cook John Pantonial, Executive Chef Jorge Sanchez, Sous Chef Oscar Vasquez, Executive Chef John Koyanagi, and Sous Chef Cristian Abea — eked out a victory by a margin of a single point! Scoring was based on 10 points for taste, 5 points for adherence to the Bon Appétit food program, 5 points for originality, and 5 points for presentation. Each member of the winning team received a knife, their names engraved on the Chef Wars trophy, and — best of all — bragging rights for an entire year!

Submitted by Jenem Martin, Executive Chef