2nd Annual Professional Cooking Competition




2nd Annual Professional Cooking Competition Showcases Vidalia® Onions at the

36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival


Vidalia, Georgia, USA (January 8, 2013) — Chefs across Georgia will again be challenged to reveal layers of their own talent as well as the versatility of the famous Vidalia® onion.

The Second Annual Golden Onion professional cooking competition will be held on Sunday, April 14, 2013 in Vidalia, Ga., as the official kick-off to the 36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. This cook-off showcases the Vidalia® onion, Georgia’s most exclusive and renowned agricultural treasure, and also offers a platform for chefs across the state to display their skills and creativity.

“We were blown away by the talent at the Golden Onion competition, especially for a first year event, said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “It just goes to show how committed Georgia’s restaurants are to highlighting our fine Georgia Grown products—like the Vidalia® onion. There’s a real sense of pride in presenting these thoughtfully prepared, high-quality dishes. With locally grown produce as a top menu item trend for 2013, we can’t wait to see what the chefs bring to the table this year!”

Golden Onion competitors will have one hour to prepare and present a recipe that features Vidalia® onions. Twelve chefs are able to compete, and have the option to work with one assistant. To be eligible, competitors must be lead chefs (with job titles such as executive chef, chef de cuisine, chef/owner) for a free-standing restaurant in Georgia. Chefs working at restaurants associated with a luxury country club, resort or hotel are also eligible.

Dishes will be judged on the basis of taste, presentation, creativity and overall use of Vidalia® onions. Making last-minute changes to the recipe submitted during the application process will reduce a chef’s final score. The panel of five judges will include Chef Hilary White, owner and executive chef of The Hil On the Hill: A Restaurant at Serenbe, who was awarded First Place Champion of Golden Onion 2012; Chef Holly Chute, executive chef of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion; Bob Stafford, director of the Vidalia® Onion Business Council; Hope S. Philbrick, an Atlanta-based freelance writer/editor who conceived of the Golden Onion; and another professional chef yet to be announced.

Some notable changes being introduced into the competition this year include judging that is open (not blind) to give chefs the opportunity to present their dishes, and allocating 15 percent of the total possible score to evaluate how Vidalia® onions are used in the dish.

The First Place Champion will be awarded the Golden Onion trophy, an exclusive honor to hold for one year. The trophy, which was designed by artist Melissa Harris of Rome, Ga., must be passed the following year to the next winner. The First Place Champion will also receive a cash prize of $500. The second place winner will receive $250 and the third place winner $100. All winners will also receive commemorative plaques.

“The Golden Onion is an exciting opportunity for chefs across Georgia to roll up their sleeves and show us what they can do with our official state vegetable,” says Ingrid M. Varn, executive director of the Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And it’s a fun opportunity for festival goers to witness a cooking competition while standing face-to-face with chefs—cooking competitions are very popular on TV but it’s a very different experience to smell what’s cooking and know that nothing has been edited out.” Recipe booklets featuring all of the competitors’ recipes will be included with the ticket price for the Golden Onion 2013 event; the booklets will also be available for $10 at various events throughout the 36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival (while supplies last).

“To have this much talent come into our community and compete using our Vidalia onions as the main ingredient in their dishes is very good for our community and for our industry,” said Bob Stafford, director of the Vidalia® Onion Business Council and Vidalia® Onion Hall of Fame inductee. “It’s also a lot of fun. I was honored to be a judge last year; the dishes that were presented exceeded my expectations. I am truly looking forward to this year’s competition.”

The Golden Onion competition is presented by the Vidalia Onion Festival Committee in cooperation with the Vidalia® Onion Committee and the Georgia Restaurant Association.

The Golden Onion competition will be held at the Vidalia Community Center, 107 Old Airport Road in Vidalia, Ga. The event is open to the public starting at 12:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $10 per person or $15 at the door. For details and downloadable application materials, visit www.vidaliaonionfestival.com and www.garestaurants.org/GoldenOnion.

About the Vidalia Onion Festival

Celebrating its 36th year in 2013, the Vidalia Onion Festival will be held April 18-21 in Vidalia, Ga. The event has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the “5 Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S.” by MSNBC. The four-day festival offers something for everyone, including the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant, a children’s parade, outdoor music concerts, an arts and crafts festival, street dance, car show, the Kiwanis Onion Run, the Vidalia Onion Festival Rodeo, and the Famous onion eating contest. Come to Vidalia to experience the “whole onion.” For more information, visit www.vidaliaonionfestival.com.

About Vidalia® Onions

Vidalia® Onions are the pioneer of sweet onions and Georgia’s official state vegetable. Grown only in the mild climate and unique soil surrounding Vidalia, Ga., they’re loved by chefs and home cooks throughout the world. Vidalia® Onions are hand-planted and hand-harvested each year, with sweet, juicy bulbs available seasonally from late April to late August. Their mild, sweet taste makes Vidalia® Onions more versatile than stronger onions. And these Georgia sweeties are a low-calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium-free way to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C. For more information, visit www.VidaliaOnion.org.

About the Vidalia® Onion Committee

Because Vidalia® Onions are sweetly unique, farmers were forced to unite and seek legal protection of their crop and its name. Federal Marketing Order No. 955 was established in 1989 to stipulate how and where the crop can be grown and sold. The Vidalia® Onion Committee administers FMO No. 955 and authorizes production research, marketing research and development and marketing promotion programs. This federal protection reinforces Georgia state laws and the Vidalia® trademark. So, you can try to grow a sweet onion elsewhere, but you cannot call it a “Vidalia!” For more information, visit www.VidaliaOnion.org.

About the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s Restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia. For more information, visit www.garestaurants.org.



Ingrid M. Varn

Executive Director, Vidalia Area CVB




Hope S. Philbrick

Freelance Writer & Editor / Golden Onion Judge




Kelly Hornbuckle

Director of Marketing, Georgia Restaurant Association