Good Taste Series Culinary Contest is Underway

Tuesday 02nd, August 2016 / 12:26 Written by
Good Taste Series Culinary Contest is Underway

Good Taste Series at Hyatt Embraces Food, Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served

The Good Taste Series Culinary Competition is on and Chefs from eleven Hyatts in the region converged at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa.

Chefs in this years regional competition included; Tyler Underwood, Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency St. Louis at Arch, Tyler Brown, Chef de Cuisine at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines resort and Spa, Vince Liu, Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Houston, Eric Ruleaux, Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Austin, Mike Alvarez, Chef Tournant, at Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Steven Valerio, Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria, Colton Foster, Sous Chef at the Driskill, Johnathon Stockdale, Banquet Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency San Antonio, Travis Joy, Culinary Supervisor at Hyatt Regency Wichita, Thomas Hagist, Lead Cook at Hyatt Regency Dallas and Marcus Walker, Cook at Hyatt Centric the Woodlands.

Good Taste Series

Group Chef shot

The competition supports Hyatt’s commitment to provide a supportive, educational and creative environment to learn, grow and advance while allowing for overall brand innovation as the culinary staff shares their unique skills and creativity with one another. It also reinforces Hyatt’s global food philosophy of “Food, Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served”, which is founded on three pillars: healthy people, healthy planet and healthy communities. The Good Taste Series competition is also another way that Hyatt cultivates an environment where career development is actively supported, giving team members an opportunity to grow and showcase their skills.

While Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa hosted the event, none of its culinary team was in attendance. Not being able to receive “home kitchen advantage” as the hosting resort, it will be sending Armando Diaz, Chef de Cuisine of Antlers Lodge to a regional competition at Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago later this summer. Diaz’s extensive travel and culinary experience brings an old world view to fantastic dining and fabulous flavors at Antlers, the signature restaurant at the resort.

This year’s competing chefs for the Good Taste Series each prepared two dishes served reception-style with dishes being judged by a combination of invited guests, including an array of individuals from the culinary industry.

The first of the two dishes featured a core ingredient aligned with Hyatt’s Sustainable Seafood Philosophy, a global initiative to increase procurement of responsibly sourced seafood at Hyatt hotels. Starting with an initial goal of responsibly sourcing more than 50 percent of their inventory by 2018, Hyatt will also work toward purchasing more than 15 percent of its seafood supply from fisheries or farms that have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). This is the first phase of a long-term seafood sustainability strategy in partnership with World Wildlife Fund, a leading global conservation organization, to build on Hyatt’s existing environmental stewardship. The partnership also focuses on enhancing the sustainability of seafood sourcing at Hyatt hotels by eliminating the procurement of highly vulnerable seafood species. For The Good Taste Series competition, the dish had to use ASC or MSC certified shrimp and/or salmon.

The second competition dish was also reception-style, featuring a nutritious, healthy option aligned with Hyatt’s “Food, Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served” global philosophy focused on sourcing and providing food and beverage options that are good for Hyatt guests and associates, good for the planet, and good for local communities. The philosophy guides food and beverage planning at Hyatt properties from the operational level to the guest experience.

Driven by insights and in-depth research, “Food, Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served” is grounded in three pillars:

  • Focus on healthy people by offering portion control, balanced offerings and natural ingredients prepared with nutrient preserving cooking techniques. Examples include gluten-free and vegetarian options, organic produce, natural meat without supplemental growth hormones or antibiotics, reduced sodium, reduced additives, beverages with all natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, hormone-free milk and real fruit juice.
  • Focus on a healthy planet by implementing sustainable practices that will improve the long-term health of people and the planet. Examples include sourcing sustainable seafood, naturally raised beef and pork, planting on-property chef’s gardens, recycling programs, and new to-go containers and packaging.
  • Support healthy communities by sourcing from local suppliers as well as sharing knowledge and actively supporting farmers’ markets and other community events. Examples include serving at least five local ingredients on menus, partnerships with schools and local community groups, and empowering Hyatt associates through education.

Contestant’s plates were judged by a combination of up to five judges, invited guests and a chef from Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. Judging criteria included flavor, plate presentation, chef interaction, cooking technique and skill, and sanitation and organization.

First place winner for this regional competition was Travis Joy, Culinary Supervisor at Hyatt Regency Wichita. His Pickle poached shrimp, tomato granite, celery, jalapeno apple hot sauce and his Lamb loin with savory oatmeal, caramelized fennel and carrot salad was outstanding in all scoring criteria. As winner of the regional competition at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa Travis now advances to the national competition in Mexico City in October. He also received a $500 gift card and trophy.

Good Taste Series

1st Place Winner – Travis Joy, Hyatt Regency Wichita – Pickle poached shrimp

Second place winner for this competition was Colton Foster, Sous Chef at The Driskill, Austin. Colton wowed judges with his Grilled Peach and Gulf Shrimp Ceviche using caramelized onion sopes, aurelia’s chorizo, red pepper and Fredricksburg peaches. His healthy option dish was LBJ Pedernales “Chilli” Wagyu Strip Loin, cornbread puree, confit tomato, chilli oil. and crispy shallot. For his win he received a Shun knife.

Good Taste Series

2nd Place Winner – Colton Foster, The Driskill – Grilled Peach and Gulf Shrimp Ceviche & Peach Punch

Third place winner was Steven Valerio, Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria. Steven’s sustainable seafood dish was Urban Star Shrimp N’ Grits with house smoked pork belly and hopadillo butter. His healthy dish was actually three dishes; A Texas Peach Tasting of Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Peach Shortcake and Pure Luck Cheesecake. For his efforts, Steven won a cookbook.

Good Taste Series

3rd Place Winner – Steven Valerio, Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria – Urban Star Shrimp n’ grits and Texas Peach Tasting


**Full Disclosure: I was invited to attend the event as a judge for the Good Taste Series Competition and write about the event. All opinions are my own.


The Hill Country Spa, Antlers Lodge and  Hill Country Golf Club are available for both resort guests and the general public to enjoy. For reservations or information, contact 210-647-1234 or visit us at


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