3rd Annual Professional Cooking Competition Showcases Vidalia® Onions at the

37th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival


Vidalia, Georgia, USA (October 1, 2013) — Which Georgia chef is most skilled in working with the famous Vidalia® onion? This spring, 12 will compete for the title.

The 3rd Annual Golden Onion professional cooking competition will be held on Sunday, April 27, 2014 in Vidalia, Ga., during the 37th 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.

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 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 tasting judges will include 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 two professional chefs yet to be announced. In addition, Chef Hilary White, winner of the inaugural Golden Onion and owner/executive chef of The Hil: A Restaurant at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., will serve as a floor judge to monitor the competition and insure all rules and guidelines are met.

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 Georgia Restaurant Association partners with Georgia Grown on two exciting initiatives geared toward increasing the awareness and use of Georgia agricultural products among culinary professionals across the state: the Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program and the Golden Onion professional cooking competition,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “Golden Onion is a great opportunity for chefs to gather from all over the state and celebrate one of Georgia’s most renowned agricultural products, the Vidalia onion.”

“Golden Onion is an exciting opportunity for chefs across Georgia to show us how creative they can be with our official state vegetable,” said Ingrid M. Varn, executive director of the Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And it’s a fun opportunity for festival goers to watch 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.”

“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.”

General admission to Golden Onion will be free so anyone can come watch the chefs in action. Recipe booklets will be available for $10. Raffle tickets are $1 each; two plates prepared by each competitor will be raffled off to lucky spectators (who must be present to win).

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.

Eligible chefs may apply through Friday, February 7, 2014. For details and downloadable application materials, visit and

About the Vidalia Onion Festival

Celebrating its 37th year in 2014, the Vidalia Onion Festival will be held April 24-27 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

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

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

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


Ingrid M. Varn

Executive Director, Vidalia Area CVB


Hope S. Philbrick

Freelance Writer & Editor / Golden Onion Judge