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Maria Garcia Takes First Place in 2017 MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown

Meeting & Travel Industry Professionals Compete for Prizes and Bragging Rights 

LAS VEGAS (November 8, 2017) – Maria Garcia with BCD Travel in Chicago turned her family’s Pozole Rojo into an award-winning dish when she took first place in the fourth annual MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown in Las Vegas. Open to meeting planners, travel professionals and leisure partners, the competition was designed by MGM Resorts to showcase clients’ culinary talents and their favorite family recipes. 
Garcia earned her way to the finals in Las Vegas after winning the Chicago Showdown, one of 11 regional cooking competitions held across the country between June and September.  As the judges described it, the flawless version of this Pozole Rojo with complex, bright flavors combined with a heartfelt family story was a winning recipe for the Midwest competitor. As her prize, Garcia received an all-expense-paid trip to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, February 21 – 25, 2018.
“Ever since I entered MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown in 2014, I wanted to take first place so I’m beyond excited to have accomplished this goal,” Maria Garcia said.  Her inspiration has been her grandmother who dished up this family favorite, always leaving them wanting more and more. “The key ingredients are three different chilies so it’s spicy, but not too spicy, and the pork shoulder should have plenty of fat and marbling.”
Edward Perotti, an independent planner from San Francisco, won second place for his Chip In Cioppino, and Saira Banu Kianes, with Banu Event Solution & Training (B.E.S.T.) LLC out of Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, received third place for her Cauliflower Rice Indian Style.
The finalists went head-to-head during the main event. Held in MGM Grand Garden Arena’s professional kitchen, the competition was judged by four of Las Vegas’ top executive chefs – Christophe De Lellis of Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand, Joshua Smith from BARDOT Brasserie at ARIA, Johnny Church of Aureole at Mandalay Bay, and Jimmy Lisnard, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand.
That evening during the Recipe Showdown Finals dinner, always filled with food, wine and celebration, held a special surprise this year.  While everyone was enjoying the cuisine of MGM Grand’s Fiamma Trattoria & Bar, Masaharu Morimoto, famed Japanese chef and star of Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” stopped by to say hello and pose with each of the contestants.  His restaurant, Morimoto Las Vegas, happens to be across from Fiamma and is celebrating its one-year anniversary. 

2017 MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown Winners:

  • First Place: Maria Garcia with BCD Travel – Pozole Rojo – Chicago 
  • Second Place: Edward Perotti with Independent Planner – Chip In Cioppino – San Francisco 
  • Third Place: Saira Banu Kianes with Banu Event Solution & Training (B.E.S.T.) LLC – Cauliflower Rice Indian Style – Peapack-Gladstone, NJ
Remaining Finalists:
  • Atlanta – Lina Painton with World Travel – Fall Tomato Salmon Warmth
  • Dallas – Beverly Buehler with Wyndam Jade, an MCI Group Company – Turkey Tetrazzini
  • Denver – Kimberle Rupert with HelmsBriscoe – Grilled Lime Chicken with Guacamole
  • Indianapolis – Katie Riggs with Raybourn Group International – Mrs. Riggs Paleo Turkey Burgers with Guacamole
  • Minneapolis – Jan Tolle MacDonald with HelmsBriscoe – Pastry Wrapped Pears with Caramel Sauce
  • National Harbor, MD – Leslie Zeck with International & American Associations for Dental Research – Light & Healthy Artichoke Soup Appetizer
  • San Diego – Pam Hosier with Pacific Dental Services – Onion Souffle
  • Seattle – Suzanne Kussie with HelmsBriscoe – White Chili with Salsa Verde
A digital cookbook with the 11 winning recipes from each city showdown will be available soon.
Cities and dates for next year’s MGM Resorts Recipe Showdown are being planned so stay tuned.
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Media Contact:
Sandy Zanella
MGM Resorts International

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