A competition that has evolved from being a quaint event into a bastion of powerhouse cooking recognized a new champion in Marinero Galit of the Saipan World Resort last Wednesday, Nov. 2. Galit, walked away from the event with $1,000.
Galit himself was surprised to hear his name called out as the CNMI’s next top chef during the cooking competition held at the Royal Taga Ballroom of the Saipan World Resort
The 4th edition of the competition, organized by the Empty Vessel Ministry Foundation and the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, featured 12 chef teams in a live on-stage elimination tournament.
“I actually stayed awake late at night before coming to the competition today. I really didn’t expect to win, it was meant to be just for fun,” Galit said. “I mostly came for the experience. Being here, participating in the competition, and getting a certificate would’ve been enough for me.”
Galit described it thus: “It was pretty tough cooking in front of a large audience and I trained only for two days. When I came on stage and saw all my ingredients in front of me, I kind of freaked out a little.”
Jay Santos, general manager of Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods, said, “Triple J has been a strong supporter of events such as the one tonight, most especially for the Empty Vessel Ministry. The fact that they’ve been around to help the community is just amazing. Tonight is a great event that highlights young chefs so they can showcase their skills.”
Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods also donated the Angus beef used by the chefs during the main entrée portion of the competition.
“We provided a certified Angus beef skirt steak. It’s not one of the easiest cuts to use because, historically, it’s marinated for a long time and when you marinate beef for a long time, it brings out the tenderness and the flavor of the meat. So it should be interesting to see how the contestants will incorporate this into their dish,” Santos said.
Judges of the event were Jim Herbert, general manager for Triple J Five Star Wholesale, Daniel Lenherr, executive chef at Westin in Guam, and first lady Diann Torres.
Other chefs who competed were Jian Cai, Nataline Borlain, Nestor Rodrigues, Francisco Sablan, Reiji Yoshizawa, Sonny Encarnacion, Michael Boldonaldi, Edgardo Casing, Rico Delos Reyes, Patrick Cepeda, and Redentor Hernandez.
After the first round, Cai, Borlain, Sablan, Boldonaldi, Casing, and Galit were able to advance but after the next round, only Sablan, Casing, and Galit were left. For the finals, Sablan won third place with $300, Casing received second place along with $500. Attendees also won raffle prizes.
The Northern Marianas Trades Institute and Kagman culinary class students also fielded volunteers.