Adrian Day-Murchison grew up in Merced surrounded by family that made a point of showing her around the kitchen. Cooking with her parents and watching her grandmother create simple, yet delicious food from the bounties of her garden gave her hope that one day she may share that same happiness with her food.
After graduating from Johnson and Wales University and Le Cordon Bleu, Adrian wanted opportunities that fed her creativity and drive. As such, she has worked for such companies as Compass Group, Hyatt Hotels, Le Cordon Bleu and Calavo as part of their Culinary Product Development Team.
Being in the culinary field for over 20 years has offered Adrian a whirlwind of ups, downs, and elegant chaos at its finest. Adrian’s Central Valley roots provide her with a keen awareness of the bountiful produce grown in California. To share her passion and knowledge of food, Adrian volunteers in her community with local and national non-profit organizations, as well as local farms and high schools.
After attending Virginia Tech for Engineering, Derek Seigfried studied Culinary Arts at New England Culinary Institute. Derek was fortunate enough to intern at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. After school, Derek cooked in St. John, USVI for 3 years, before moving to Connecticut. Here, he worked under Michel Nischan at The Dressing Room, as well as Denise Appel at Zinc. Derek then opened Moxie in Madison as the Executive Chef, where he remained for 7 years. Currently, Derek holds the position of Culinary Specialist at Gordon Food Service where he consults with customers on menus, trends and innovation.
Dontre’al Haigler started as an English major at South Carolina State University before following his true passion for the culinary arts. He graduated from the Art Institute of Charleston with a degree in Culinary Management. He gained hands-on experience with homestyle cuisine as well as in the areas of deli, pizza, burger production, and various international fare while working within the foodservice system at South Carolina State University. Dontre’al joined Denny’s Product Development team in 2016. He has contributed to the success of the company with the development and launch of such products as the Co-Reactor pancakes which were a feature of the” Han Solo” movie LTO menu and the seasonal favorite, Double Chocolate Pancake Puppies.
Jereme started his Culinary Career at age 15 under Chef Jimmy Babb as a dishwasher, where he developed his passion for food and the hospitality industry. He continued to learn through work experience while training at the tech center under Chef Skip Ailstock, when he realized that food would be his chosen path for the future. While studying for BAS at Johnson & Wales University, he pushed himself to work in as many areas of the business as he could.
His past career ventures include Executive Chef, Burtons Grill Charlottesville, Opening Chef at Whiskey Kitchen, Virginia Beach and Executive Chef at The Butcher’s Son in Chesapeake, Commune, Terrapin & Keegan’s Restaurant Groups.
Currently Jereme is a Culinary Specialist at Sysco of Hampton Roads, where he has been for 5 years. He works with customers to build trusting relationships and trendy menus items enhancing operators’ success and profitability.
Robert Stegall-Smith is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and holds a Masters in Hospitality Administration from UNLV. His background includes experience in fine dining, private clubs, colleges and universities, B&I and healthcare before assuming the Corporate Chef position for IFH in 1996.
Robert has been recognized by the American Culinary Federation as a certified executive chef since 1997, and was inducted into The American Academy of Chefs in 2005. He is a past president of the Midlands Chapter of the ACF and served as the ACF Chair on the South Carolina Hospitality Association’s Education Committee. His career holds a number of accolades and awards, ranging from being the first place winner in the 1999 S.C. School Lunch Challenge, to being named the 2013 Chef of the Year in the Midlands and received the 2013 Richard M. Lee Culinarian of the Year award.
Robert has been part of the Culinary Certificate program at the University of South Carolina since its inception. He also serves as a subject matter expert for ECPI University.
"Working with California Giant Berry Farms has been a dream. I gained so much knowledge and insight about the produce industry and farming from the field tours and events and felt fortunate to enjoy the California Giant team as my host. I have gained meaningful friends and a wealth of insight from this competition!"
Sam Blackburn, 2020 Chef Invitational Winner
"I loved getting to know fellow chefs and being creative with one of my favorite ingredients - berries. Having a mid-summer field tour and culinary competition brought out the best dishes I've seen in a long time."
Travis Peters, 2019 Chef Invitational Winner
"The opportunity to tour the farms, taste the product in the fields, participate in the competition and the honor to win the first Chef Invitational is something that I will always cherish. But most important are the friendships developed with the California Giant Berry Farms family, fellow chefs, growers and farmers that makes this event one of a kind."
Luis Reyes, 2018 Chef Invitational Winner