Sierra Chef Challenge Exemplifies the Farm-to-Fork Movement

South Lake Tahoe, CA… The Sierra Chef Challenge is just one of the many highlights of the 4th annual Sample the Sierra festival. The competition is now in its second year and has already become a crowd favorite. The “Iron Chef” of the Sierra Nevada region brings three top chefs together to compete head to head in a 45 minute cook-off. The Chef Challenge is sponsored by Sierra Meat & Seafood Company, a company that has been providing private label, specialty, and exotic meat and seafood to the Reno-Tahoe area for 65 years. They will be donating their quality meats to the competing chefs to use alongside a mystery box of fresh produce from Mountain Bounty Farm out of Nevada City. The chefs have to use all of the ingredients and come up with their best dish in 45 minutes. Local celebrity judges include Paul Middlebrook and Dreu Murin of K-Tahoe Radio. The two will be joined by Mike Owen, no stranger to the food business, as owner and of Crystal Basin Cellars & Bistro in Camino, California.
Meet this year’s competitors:
The inaugural Sierra Chef Challenge winner, Chef Rob with Riva Grill was not able to return; in his place is his challenger, Chef Peter Brinkerhoff who will compete for the title for a second time. Chef Brinkerhoff is the Executive Chef for the Tahoe Restaurant Collection (Gar Woods, Riva Grill, Caliente & Bar of America) and has lived in Lake Tahoe for over 20 years. He started cooking at the age of 13 and enjoys finding obscure ingredients to come up with new flavors and dishes. He has trained under several culinary Olympic winning chefs, and competed in many culinary competitions. When asked what his favorite thing to cook is he generally replies with “the best meal you have ever eaten”.
Chef Glenn Simpson, a transplant from New Zealand, and a staple to the Blue Angel Café & Catering, brings his years of experience in creating well-seasoned, honest food to the competition. Always aspiring to thread a layer of simplicity through each dish, he has spent the last 17 years in South Lake Tahoe creating culinary splendors for several restaurants. Educated at the California School of Culinary Arts in South Pasadena, he has worked for The Fresh Ketch and the Christiana Inn while participating in numerous food and wine events throughout Lake Tahoe, obtaining several gold medals including Best Food and Wine pairing at the annual Sunset Magazine Autumn Food & Wine Festival at Squaw Creek.
The Executive Chef of Zephyr Cove Resort and Lake Tahoe Cruises, Chef Jeremy “Boomer” Acuña, grew up around food. He attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu and later did an internship at Georges at the Cove, a restaurant focused on seasonal and sustainable cooking. After stints in Scottsdale, AZ and Glacier Bay Lodge in Alaska, where fresh crab off the boat was a nightly treat, Boomer was brought down to Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove California. As Chef de Cuisine he focused on using local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable products. Never one to stray from a challenge, Boomer made his way to the CIA in New York to take the Pro Chef Tests, passing at the top of his class. He’s participated for the last four years at the Monterey Bay Aquariums “Cooking for Solutions” – a long weekend dedicated to sustainable cooking practices and will surely be a threat in this competition.
This battle of passion for cooking and food will make for a great show as these three Chefs put their skills to the test and entertain the crowd. The Sierra Chef Challenge will take place at 2:30 pm in the Sierra Stage Tent. This creative culinary challenge is just one component of the Sample the Sierra festival on Sunday, September 1, 2013 from 1-5pm, on Ski Run Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe. Full tasting tickets for the festival are $30 and include a commemorative wine tasting glass. Tickets may be purchased in advance at For more information and media inquiries, please contact Jessica Cunningham at 775.588.1728 or email