The Sierra Chef Challenge features local talents duking it out for the coveted Sierra Chef title.

The 5th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge includes three heats of two chefs each cooking against one another with a mystery box of locally grown ingredients. In each heat, the two chefs will have 45 minutes to complete their dishes.  If a chef is not done in the 45 minute time frame s/he will be disqualified from the judging. The chefs will have a commissary table that will be shared by all the chef’s for produce, dairy & dry goods needs. Each chef can bring three items from their restaurant to be used in their dishes. All items brought from individual chef’s restaurants will be shared at the commissary table. Each chef will be judged on creativity, presentation and taste. The two chefs with the best dishes will advance to the final round to face each other for the coveted Sierra Chef title.

justinChef Justin Kaplan

Executive Chef Justin Kaplan of Cold Water Brewery. Kaplan originally from New Jersey has a degree in Hotel / Restaurant Business and has been lucky to have worked some of the best kitchens in the Tri-state area. In 2009 Kaplan opened his own restaurant as Executive Chef / Owner just outside of Philadelphia. In 2012 he sold the business fulfilling his dream to move to Tahoe. Working for Martis Camp and Restaurant 941has acquired some local accolades such as “Best Ingredient” at Chocolate, Wine and Roses and won the 2015 Sierra Chef Competition.   Kaplan brings “California Comfort Food” to Cold Water with an emphasis on local seasonal ingredients. A carefully designed menu Cold Water patrons can enjoy a range of cuisine to satisfy all palates. Keep an eye out for seasonally changing menus and weekly specials.

Chef Kenneth Druley

mirabelle1Chef Kenneth Druley and Kathleen Pressey opened Mirabelle at Lake Tahoe, in December of 2014 with the desire to renew and update the idea of French and European cuisine in the Tahoe Basin.  As much as possible, we are in the mountains, Mirabelle at Lake Tahoe uses locally farmed produce and locally raised meats, and works with a number of farms in El Dorado (CA) and Douglas (NV) counties.  This is nothing new to Chef Druley who grew up cooking from farmers markets in his native Wisconsin, and later in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York and the markets of Napa, Sonoma and Marin California.  It has always been important for Chef Druley to work at restaurants that support local producers and use fresh, seasonal ingredients in their menus, and now he has the opportunity to do this in his own restaurant.

Marrow Bone Herb Salad 6-23-16“This is the way most cultures around the world cook: you go to the markets in the morning and create with and serve that in the evening. Fresh, great quality, always changing food. By going to the market here I can develop relationships with the Farmers or Ranchers that allows me to offer to my Guests things they cannot get anyhwhere else.” Working with one farmer in El Dorado County this year we were able to locate and source locally grown Mirabelle plums, which are the regional plums of Alsace, France.mirabelle2

Chef Druley has been in professional kitchens for more than 20 years, completing an ACF Apprenticeship before attending the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY.  Chef Druley has worked in some of the top kitchens in the Napa Valley, including Terra, Roux, Julia’s Kitchen and the Carneros Inn.  He has been Chef for Pyramid Brewing and Cook, St. Helena.  Most recently he was Sous Chef at Mirabelle French Cuisine.

Ms. Pressey has been in the hospitality and wine industry for over 20 years in tasting rooms from Freemark Abbey to Mumm Napa Valley and Alpha Omega winery and in hotels in the Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe area.

Chef Druley and Ms. Pressey look forward to making sure that all of our Guests have an outstanding experience at Mirablle at Lake Tahoe

Chef Jimi Nakamatsu

Ro·nin: /r?n?n/ Noun-historical (in feudal Japan) a wandering samurai who had no lord or master.

chef_jimi_05_kalanisWell, it’s not quite as cool sounding as that, but Chef Jimi is currently a Chef without a restaurant.  The 2015 Sample The Sierra booth winner, has just finished up his last days at Kalani’s Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe, where he spent the last 4 years as their Executive Chef focusing on the restaurant’s Asian/Pacific Rim inspired menu, while incorporating his personal and culinary experiences to serve his guests.

Born and raised in San Jose, CA, Chef Nakamatsu’s cuisine is a reflection of his formal culinary training as well as growing up in a diverse multicultural environment.  These factors have allowed Jimi to develop a love for all ingredients, all styles of cuisine and a dedication to constant learning and investigating new techniques and flavors.

After culinary school and a brief stint on the Big Island of Hawaii, it was on to San Francisco, where he learned from a number of accredited chefs.  Line cook positions with Chef Daniel Humm (Chef/Owner Eleven Madison Park, NY) at Campton Place Hotel, Hiro Sone at Restaurant Ame in the St. Regis Hotel and a Sous Chef position at the Fifth Floor Restaurant in the Hotel Palomar.  chef_jimi_kalanisEach position was dramatically different, from the intricate fine dining, to the rustic approach of complete use of product.  The constant were the Chefs – each one always maintaining the selfless attitude of correctly servicing their customers, an adherence to right and wrong, and a no short cut approach to the craft.

Presently, Chef Jimi is wandering the culinary landscape of South Lake Tahoe, searching for his new kitchen to call home.  Additionally, he has partnered with some fellow Chefs and started Eat-Time South Lake Tahoe, which hopes to launch culinary business that will bring something fresh and exciting to our area.