ORLANDO, Fla. (April 30, 2012) — It’s a proud day for Winn-Dixie as Jose Vargas, Winn-Dixie chef at its Fern Park neighborhood store, located at 7800 South Highway 17-92, has been selected to compete in the 2012 Food Marketing Institute Supermarket Chef Showdown on Tues., May 1 in Dallas, Texas. Vargas’ recipe for Bulgur Wheat Aurora with McCormick Mediterranean Cod was selected from 357 submissions sent in by 50 grocers across the country. Vargas will compete in the “Healthy Alternatives” category against 4 other culinary professionals for a chance to be crowned Grand Chef.
“I am excited to be able to represent Winn-Dixie at my first cooking competition,” said Vargas. “I wanted to create a unique and flavorful dish and with the feedback of my culinary team members and Winn-Dixie’s Fern Park neighbors, I arrived at a winning combination.”
Vargas’ recipe puts a unique spin on the classic Arabic dish Tabouli. By substituting sweeter ingredients such as sundried apricots, currants and craisins for the traditional garlic, onions and tomatoes, Vargas has created a delightful, pallet cleansing salad to accompany a low-fat, low calorie baked fish. Vargas also changed the salads traditional sauce, reducing low sodium chicken stock, sugar-free apricot preserves and chai tea into a flavorful and healthy dressing that compliments the salads light base.
Kevin Smith, Winn-Dixie Corporate Executive Chef, praised Vargas for his passion and determination to create a unique dish. Smith shared his enthusiasm and showed unwavering confidence that Vargas will represent Winn-Dixie’s commitment to providing its guests with an unparalleled culinary experience.
“Jose’s culinary ability shines throughout his recipe and his dedication to his craft makes him a great candidate to represent the Winn-Dixie team,” said Smith. “Guests can visit Jose at the Fern Park Winn-Dixie and taste why he was selected to compete against some of the best chefs in the industry.”
Vargas, 34, arrived at Winn-Dixie in October of 2011 with more than 15 years of culinary experience. Trained at Milwaukee Technical College through an apprenticeship program, Vargas began working at the Milwaukee River Hilton where he was promoted to Executive Sous Chef. In 2000, Vargas became the Executive Chef at Sendik’s Supermarkets, creating menus and gaining valuable experience in the supermarket industry. Throughout his career, Vargas has also had the opportunity to work on many exciting projects, including catering for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Summerfest music festival and charity events such as Taste of the Nation, one of the country’s premier culinary benefits. Vargas also served on the board of the American Culinary Federation of Milwaukee before arriving in Central Florida.
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., is one of the nation’s largest food retailers. Founded in 1925, the Company is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. The Company currently operates 483 retail grocery locations, including 379 in-store pharmacies, in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. For more information, please visit www.winndixie.com
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Bulgur Wheat Aurora with McCormick Mediterranean Cod
By: Chef Jose Vargas
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Bulgur Wheat (coarse grind traditional): 1 cup
Water: 2 ¼ water
Sundried apricots: ½ cup (small diced)
Currants: ½ cup
Toasted almonds: ½ cup
Craisins: ½ cup
Arugula: ¾ cup (coarse chop)
Sun dried figs: ½ cup (small dice)
Mint: 1/2 cup (small chop)
Low sodium chicken stock: 3 cups
Smuckers apricot preserves (no sugar): 1 cup
Chai tea: 2 tea bags
Cod: 8 oz cut (you can substitute for a fish of your liking or dietary needs or poultry)
McCormick Mediterranean herb spice: 2 Tablespoon
Bring water to boil, add bulgur wheat stir and cover about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain excess water.
Carefully place bulgur wheat in medium size bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to bulgur wheat and cover.
Pour low sodium chicken broth, apricot preserves and chai tea bags in medium hard bottom pot. Low to medium heat and let reduce for 5-10 minutes or until sauce coats back of a spoon. When ready pour sauce into bowl with bulgur wheat and toss lightly with fork.
Sprinkle McCormick’s Mediterranean on cod. Place cod in preheated oven 350 degrees and bake uncovered until internal temp reaches 140. If using poultry 165-170 internal temp
Arrange 6-8 oz of bulgur wheat on plate with fish or poultry. Salt lightly or according to dietary intake. Enjoy
Refrigerate remaining bulgur wheat; it can be enjoyed alone for a quick snack.