Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Oak Grove Center introduces competing judges for So-Cal Chef Open


Last updated 8/16/2019 at 12:51am

Jeff Pack photo

Oak Grove Center CEO Tammy Wilson talks to the crowd during the meet-and-greet event at the Truax Building in Old Town Temecula.

The Oak Grove Center hosted a media day and competing chefs meet and greet Wednesday, July 31, at the Truax Building in Temecula to preview the annual So-Cal Chef Open planned for Aug. 26 at Pechanga Resort Casino.

More than 650 people are expected to attend the event which pits up-and-coming chefs against experienced chefs from the region against each other to compete for the coveted Pinnacle Award and People's Choice awards.

E.A.T. Temecula Chef Leah Di Bernardo leads a group of judges that includes Daragh Matheson, executive chef of Leoness Cellars; Josh Kopelman, editor of Dining Out San Diego; Chef Dean Thomas and Chef Rosie O'Connor of Provecho Grill.

Competing chefs this year include Chef Kenneth Danko of Devilicious Eatery; Chef Steven Moore of The Trendy Chef; Chef de Cuisine Armando Cota of Avensole Winery; Chef J. Rivas of LatitudebyJR; Chef Angel Tapia of Tap's Taco Catering; Executive Sous Chef Luis Ortega of Westside Cafe-Grill; Chef Martin Corso of The Chef's Grille; Chef Daniel Johnson of The Naughty Pig; Chef Kevin Grant of Oak Mountain Winery; Chef Rachel Siripakdi of The Bamboo House Asian Bistro; Chef Andres Casillas of Tacos Express; Chef Giampi Giammanco of Il Tramonto Ristorante; Chef J. Wayman Wells of New Birth Heart and Soul Café; Chef Pete Lent of Pete's Firehouse BBQ; Chef Andy Churchill of 8Bit Brewing; Chef Dylan Soro of Soro's Mediterranean Grill and Executive Sous Chef Sterling King and Chef Matthew Steffen of Cork Fire Kitchen.

The event benefits Oak Grove Center, the residential education and treatment center for children with psychological, emotional, behavioral problems and special needs.

Proceeds from the So-Cal Chef Open specifically help the vocational and culinary programs at Oak Grove, including Culinary Creations is a vocational program that now is located in the Truax Building in Old Town Temecula.

"Oak Grove provides care for at-risk and special needs youth and their families through building character and instilling hope," Oak Grove CEO Tammy Wilson said. "The Culinary Creations program at Oak Grove is one of the many programs that allow youth to apply skills they have embraced, skills include customer service, responsibility and teamwork."

Tickets for the So-Cal Chef Open are $40 for individuals and $75 for couples and are available online at

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]


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