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The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has announced the 20 culinary contenders from grocery retail that will compete in Dallas at the FMI Supermarket Chef Showdown, a culinary challenge integrated into the FMMI2012 food retail show program.

“These 20 retail chefs exemplify how supermarkets are more than a venue in which to shop – they have talented associates who breathe life into the menus for their customers,” FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin said. “FMI2012 is the best venue for us to shine the spotlight on how the food retail industry inspires as well as nourishes.”

The finalists are broken out into four categories:

Ethnic: John Depaolis, Giant Eagle, Inc.; Shornalee Banerjee, Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc.; Alexander Strauss, Hy-Vee, Inc.; Brian Dunn, Roche Bros. Supermarkets, Co.; and Chris Wilson, United Supermarkets, LLC.

Healthy Alternatives: Kara Behlke, Hy-Vee, Inc.; Richard Babcock, Hy-Vee, Inc.; Rachael Perron, Kowalski's Companies; Daniel Bonner, Publix Super Markets, Inc.; and Jose Vargas, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.

Indulgent: Jason Miller, Balducci's; Keoni Chang, Foodland Super Market, Ltd.; James Alexander, Hy-Vee, Inc.; Chris Delise, Kings Super Markets, Inc.; and Mike Grimes, Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Family Meals: Rob Dumont, Balducci's; Jennifer Gritters, Meijer, Inc.; Tim Donnelly, Publix Super Markets, Inc.; Amber Pruett, Publix Super Markets, Inc.; and Greg Roach, Wild Oats Markets, Inc.

The Recipe Contest segment of the competition closed on March 15, and 182 supermarket chefs registered for the contest, submitting a total of 357 recipes. On May 3, the winner from each category will receive a $1,000 prize and will compete to determine the Supermarket Chef Showdown Grand Chef Champion who will receive a three-day professional development course at the Culinary Institute of America.
KC's View:
I applaud FMI for bringing some focus to the subject of food, which has largely been ignored by many in the food business over the past few decades.