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2015 Garlic Showdown… Local restaurant owners participate in Iron Chef style competition By Larry J. Mickartz T he Garlic Showdown is a Sunday event at the Garlic Festival. The event is an Iron Chef style competi- tion. Four professional chefs compete for a grand prize of $5,000. The Garlic Festival attracts visitors form all over the world. The Friday Great Cook-Off attracts amateur competitors from all over the United States. California Universities compete for the Saturday Garlic Bowl and on Sunday, profes- sional chefs from the Bay Area compete in the Garlic Showdown. This year one of the chefs was Gilroy restaurant owner, Adam Sanchez, and his restaurant partner and sous chef for the day, Ann Zybarra. Adam and Ann are owners of the Milias Restaurant in downtown Gilroy. The other competitors were Jonathan Toste of Willard Hicks restaurant in Campbell; Danae McLaughlin of the Harker Schools in San Jose; and Chad Greer of LB Steak in San Jose. Shortly before the competition the com- petitors were introduced to a somewhat limited pantry and the mys- tery ingredients: baby cucumbers, Spam, Dole fruit cocktail, and squash blossoms. Competitors had to prepare two dishes, one chicken and one pork loin. The competition was timed. In less than two hours, dishes were prepared, served and judged. While Adam and Ann did not win, they admitted to having fun and were pleased with their final dishes. The mystery ingre- dients were a challenge…most fine dining establishments do not use a lot of Span or fruit cocktail. The penny sized baby cucum- bers were an unknown entity. The squash blossoms fit in nicely. Congratulations to our local celebrity chefs! The judges agreed the final entrees were delicious all around and the final scores were very close. The 2015 winner was Jonathan Toste from Willard Hicks. Daphne Oz, co-host of ABC’s The Chew and three-time Showdown winner Chef Jason Gronlund, hosted the event. Chef Gronlund is currently the Vice-President of Culinary for the Orlando based Smokey Bones Bar & Grill. Chef Gronlund donat- ed his 2014 prize money to the Gilroy Foundation. What would you make with baby cucumbers, Spam, Dole fruit cocktail and squash blossoms? GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEM BER/OCTOBER 2015 37