Hyatt tops Chef’s Competition at final Taste festival

The Hyatt Regency Saipan bested four other major hotels on Saipan in the 2014 Certified Angus Beef Chef’s Competition last Saturday in the final leg of the 2014 Taste of Marianas Food Festival and Beer Garden at the American Memorial Park.

Organized by Triple J and coordinated by Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods general manager Jay Santos, Hyatt bested Pacific Islands Club, Mariana Resort and Spa, Saipan World Resort, and Fiesta Resort and Spa in this year’s competition, which had the theme “Mexican Beef Tacos.”

Mariana Resort won last year’s Chef’s Competition, which had the theme “All American Cheese Burger.”

“Each year we try to come up with different themes for the event and, as you can see, they were very happy that this year was Mexican Beef Tacos as we haven’t had that type of food for this event,” Santos told Saipan Tribune.

This year Saipan World Resort placed second, while Mariana Resort placed third.

The Hyatt team won $500, the World Resort team got $300 and Marianas Resort won $200. All placers were given trophies and a bag of goodies from Certified Angus Beef.

Santos thanked the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas Islands for donating $1,000 for the cash prizes.

Ken Stewart, also known as the Guam Food Guy and one of the competition’s judges, said he enjoyed the Hyatt’s entry “primarily because they were the truest to the traditional concept of the Mexican beef taco. They used something that had imagery with the southwest of Mexico.”

“Their salsas were both delicious and the way their meat was cooked and the homemade shells were crispy and flavorful. Everything you wanted such as the taste and the authenticity was done well,” he added.

Vinson Deleon Guerrero, lead cook for Giovanni’s at Hyatt, said that everything they used for their dish such as peppers, lemons, and avocados were also used as part of their display.

“We wanted to stay within the Mexican tradition of tacos and put out basic condiments such as the salsa, guacamole, chilis, and pickle de gallo and tried to infuse as much of the local ingredients as we can using mangos and donni (local hot pepper) on island and also local avocados,” he said.

“The beef we had to slow cook for 12 hours and everything that came with it,” Deleon Guerrero added.

Hyatt’s pastry chef Ian Cranley said the soft-shelled tacos took about an hour to prepare and the potato chips took about an hour and a half.

Santos said that Triple J is truly proud to host this event every year.

“The HANMI member hotels look forward to this competition every year and it’s a delight to see the junior chefs come out and be as creative as they are with the display and how they prepare the food,” Santos said.

“Congratulations to all the contestants and based on the scores it was an extremely tight and very close and congratulations to Hyatt for winning this year’s event,” he added.

Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at

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