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Chef awarded top prize in Ocean Spray recipe contest

For its fifth annual Ultimate Cranberry Recipe Contest, Ocean Spray has raised the bar once again in search of executive chefs and foodservice professionals who highlight the versatility of the cranberry in the most unique and vibrant way.

This year, Shonna Ebert of Dietert Center in Kerrville, TX, and her mouthwatering masterpiece, kickin’ chicken tortilla soup with zesty cranberry crème fraîche, took home the coveted Ultimate Cranberry Recipe title and the $10,000 grand prize.

Chef Ebert prepared her innovative creation for a panel of judges, including Paul King, executive chef of Davio’s; Lawrence Parks, executive chef; and Jason Ward, executive chef of Renaissance Boston Hotel & Spa at Patriot Place during the final cooking showdown Sept. 23. The judges announced Chef Ebert as the winner during Ocean Spray’s Fall Harvest Festival.

“For more than 80 years, Ocean Spray has been on the lookout for the most creative and innovative ways to use the cranberry — from sauces and glazes to cocktails and desserts,” Keith Benoit, Ocean Spray’s director of foodservice and special markets, said in a Sept. 26 press release. “All of the finalists’ recipes, including Shonna Ebert’s winning tortilla soup, prove once again that no matter the dish, the cranberry can add that sweet or tangy accent to make any ordinary dish extraordinary.”

The three other finalists in the competition were Brent Rhoda of Sysco SEF in West Palm Beach, FL, with his deep-fried craisins; Michael Sabella of Sysco Foodservices in San Francisco with his cranberry puebla cocktail; and Shawn Bucher of First Timer’s Enterprise Inc. in Ogden, UT, with his holiday Caprese salad.

The contest was open to food professionals — from established chefs to recent culinary school graduates — who have a passion for cranberries. The finalists and winner recipes can be found at as well as