Chef David joined the Performance Foodservice team in 2019. He has over 35 years in the industry holding culinary roles, working in senior leadership, and has been a leader in Culinary Education, training thousands of culinary students on the East Coast. He is a dedicated supporter of the American Culinary Federation’s Certification process and actively mentors Chefs throughout the process as well as leads examination teams in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Starting his career in the family restaurant at a very young age, he began to fully understand the effort and dedication it would take to become successful in the kitchen. Eventually managing the family business, he had an early understanding of small business operations, employee management, and customer service.
After nurturing his skills in the field for many years he was offered a position as Executive Chef for a historic property in Massachusetts where he completely revamped the entire operational process and management systems.
Chef later joined an accredited Culinary Institute where he was able to further master his skills in the production kitchen and develop them to apply in a classroom setting. As a Chef Instructor he was recognized for his interactive and real-life approach to educational delivery and was moved into the role of Director of Education where he championed with their national curriculum committee to completely rewrite the entire Culinary Arts, Baking and pastry, And Italian Culinary Arts programs. He also led the Career Services office where he worked to leverage partnerships with national brand partners for unique and coveted externship experiences. In addition, he was at the forefront of the competition committee creating both internal and external student competitions, Chef partner demonstrations, and guest speaker/mentor programs.
As a leader in Culinary Education David was commissioned to film a DVD to accompany the On Cooking textbook by Sara Labensky, Priscilla A. Martel, Alan M. Hause, providing over eighty video demonstrations of culinary fundamentals that is still used in culinary schools throughout the USA today.
Chef expanded his breadth of food service management in his role as Food Service District Management for a major contract management company in their education division. There he operated properties throughout New England from public and private schools, colleges, and universities. David was able to design and roll out new concepts which were designed to be retrofit into any location throughout the US.
Chef McGurn holds certifications as a CEC Certified Executive Chef as well as in CCA Certified Culinary Administration. He also is a respected Certification Examiner throughout New England for the ACF. David has orchestrated and organized ACF Regional Competitions and Chaine Des Rotisseurs Young Chef Competition.
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.
Growing up Jereme aspired as working as a lawyer or in wildlife management, but at age 15 needed money for a car and took a dishwashing job in the resort area of his home in Virginia Beach. It is there where he witnessed the organized chaos under Chef Jimmy Babb and soon realized that there is an art and excitement that flows through a kitchen like blood through a limb. To lock in his passion Jereme studied at a trade school for culinary arts while in High School, where he then chose to take the next step and was accepted to Johnson & Wales University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management.
After School Jereme worked back in that same resort town sharpening his skills in the hotel industry, working his way up to Chef of his own kitchen. Wanting to learn as much as possible from as many chefs/operators as possible Jereme spent the next years developing himself in a variety of food genres. In 2008 Jereme found a home at the Burton’s Grill Group, an ambitious and trend forward concept, here Jereme was on the global support team that would travel from city to city spreading the gospel of scratch food while opening new business until landing in Charlottesville, VA as the Executive Chef of the at the time newest Burtons Grill.
Since then, Jereme Has moved back to Virginia Beach and worked as the Opening Chef for the Butcher Son Restaurant group where many of his recipes still please people to this day. Having a Beautiful Wife, Jenn and two amazing children, Noah and Sophia, Jereme searched for a position that allowed him to fulfill his passion while having a balanced home life. That is when 6 years ago, Jereme accepted a position with Sysco of Hampton Roads as their Culinary Specialist where he tests and manipulates products while sharing his knowledge with other restaurateurs.
He is very excited for his next steps in this food driven paradise we live in and has dreams of owning his own culinary legacy in the future.
Chef Katie currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, where she is the Corporate Chef for Performance Food Group Oak Creek. Her love for food extends back as far as she can remember, stemming from her experience of cooking at home. Katie loves to try new food “adventures,” and appreciates food as a way of getting to know different cultures. She firmly believes that if you cook her a meal that means something to you, she’ll better understand you.
Katie graduated Magna cum laude from Johnson and Wales Denver, and has worked across the spectrum in restaurants, and now gets to enjoy having the capabilities to help other restauranteurs and chefs with their business.
Having been in this industry since 2005, Katie has learned a lot; however, is always excited to learn new things every day.
Chef Steven is a native of Southwest Pennsylvania and began his early training in vocational school, continuing his education at the Le Cordon Bleu Program at Pennsylvania Culinary Institute (PCI) in Pittsburgh, PA. He accredits the most flourishing experience of his culinary youth to the renowned Culinary Apprenticeship Program at The Greenbrier. Upon the completion of his program, Steven was awarded "Apprentice of the Year", he also earned several medals in ACF certified hot and cold food competitions. Steven later served as The Greenbrier’s Executive Sous Chef. He was the Chairman of the Greenbrier’s Apprenticeship Program, organizing food showings, demos, training and inspiring the culinary team.
Steven operated the Food and Beverage program at Adventures on the Gorge located on the rim of the New River Gorge in West Virginia. He then moved to Atlanta as the opening Chef for Rosendale Events. Later joined Gordon Food Service as the Culinary Specialist for Georgia, helping customers with their foodservice operations.
"From top to bottom, this competition was amazing. Nothing beats eating that perfect berry you just picked while walking out in the fields. I will never forget that, and I will never forget the people. So much passion from everyone involved. The California Giant family is truly something special, and one that I am thrilled to now be a part of!"
Derek Seigfried, 2022 Chef Invitational Winner
"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