When was the first Golden Onion professional cooking competition?

The inaugural Golden Onion took place on Sunday, April 22, 2012. The second Annual Golden Onion professional cooking competition will be held on Sunday, April 14, 2013.


Who won?

In 2012, top honors were awarded to Chef Hilary White, owner and executive chef of The Hil On the Hill: A Restaurant at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., for her recipe “Caramelized Vidalia® Onion Fritter, Serenbe Farm Vegetable Slaw and Mustard Vinaigrette.” She will officially “pass the onion” and serve as one of the five judges for the 2013 competition.


Second place winner Chef Justin Keith, executive chef at Food 101 in Sandy Springs, Ga., prepared his recipe “Vidalia® Onion and Smoked Bacon Au Gratin.”


Third place winner Chef Austin Rocconi, executive chef for Le Vigne Restaurant at Montaluce in Dahlonega, Ga., was recognized for his recipe “Pan Roasted Rabbit Loin with Burnt Onion Stock, Vidalia® Onion Soubise Foam and Celeriac Succotash.”


Who is eligible to compete?

Golden Onion competitors must be lead chefs (with job titles such as executive chef, chef de cuisine, chef/owner, etc.) working for a free-standing restaurant in the state of Georgia. Restaurants associated with a luxury country club, resort or hotel are also eligible


Why aren’t caterers eligible to compete?

One of the goals of Golden Onion is to promote Georgia Tourism, thus all competitors must represent a restaurant that is open to the public.


What equipment is made available to the competitors?

Each chef will be provided with a workstation, consisting of 6-foot front and back worktables. Trash containers, water and electricity are also provided. Chefs are responsible to supply all ingredients for the dish they prepare plus supply all of their own equipment. This approach contributes to the planning and preparation elements of the challenge and helps keep operating costs down. It also ensures that competitors may use equipment with which they’re familiar.


Since Golden Onion is the official kick-off to the Vidalia Onion Festival, is the event held at the fairgrounds?

No. Golden Onion is held at the Vidalia Community Center, 107 Old Airport Road in Vidalia, Ga. The modern facility, located in the heart of Vidalia® onion country, offers ready access to electricity and running water, protection from inclement weather, restroom facilities, and comfortable space for competitors, judges, media and spectators.


The Vidalia Onion Festival is comprised of a series of events. Golden Onion is the only event that puts Georgia’s official vegetable in the hands of 12 of the state’s most talented chefs.


Golden Onion is not held on the fairgrounds for a variety of reasons. For starters, there is no electricity or running water available at the fairgrounds; renting generators and tents would significantly increase costs, risk weather interferences and compromise reliability. What’s more, hosting Golden Onion as a singular event ensures that all the chefs who take the time to travel to Vidalia to compete are given center stage and the attention of a focused audience.


What else takes place during Golden Onion while chefs compete?

A new raffle adds exciting tasting opportunities for audience members. Two plates of the dish each chef prepares will be raffled off to audience members. Raffle tickets cost $1 each and, with 12 competitors, there are 24 chances to win.


In addition, food vendors who are not competing are invited to sell product in the parking lot outside the Vidalia Community Center during Golden Onion. This provides an opportunity for chefs not otherwise eligible or able to compete (since there are only 12 spots!) to participate, adds to the festive atmosphere, plus makes food available for spectators.


What is the judging criteria?

Dishes are judged on the basis of taste (50%), oral presentation (5%), visual presentation (10%), creativity (15%), overall use of Vidalia® onions (15%), and following the recipe submitted during the application process (5%).


Why isn’t the judging blind?

Open judging—where the judges can see the competition while it’s taking place—allows judges to monitor the competition and be sure all rules are followed. (In this particular venue, it also doubles the physical space available.) An open format also lets chefs present their dishes to the judges, which several chefs requested. Interaction between the chefs and judges adds to the entertainment value of the event.


Who can attend Golden Onion?

The event is open to the public. Doors open starting at 12:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $10 per person or $15 at the door. A booklet of recipes that will be prepared during the event is included in the ticket price.


Free admission is offered to students currently enrolled in a culinary school in Georgia. (Valid student ID required.)


Are the recipes prepared during Golden Onion posted online?

Not all recipes will be posted online. A recipe book of all 12 competitors’ recipes is included with the ticket price and also available for $10 at other events during the Vidalia Onion Festival.


How can I get more information?

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