This week, I’ve received word that TWO fellows with local connections are finalists in national cooking competitions! Katsuko “Katz” Sandifer, who up until recently was a kitchen manager at The Casino Club at The Homestead in Warm Springs, is one of four finalists in the professional category of Ocean Spray‘s recipe contest. His dish is Asian Shrimp and Scallops with Ginger Cranberry Syrup. Patrick Maggi, owner of Blues BBQ in downtown Roanoke, is one of 10 finalists in the American Pizza Championship. His winning creation is a Prosciutto Pear Pizza, a sweet and savory combination of poached pears, prosciutto and Gorgonzola cheese.
Katz was born in Japan but his family moved to America when he was about 13 and he went to high school in Chapel Hill, N.C. He received an Associate’s Degree from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. He says he worked at The Homestead for about five years, starting as an intern and moving his way up to a kitchen manager. He recently quit and moved to Rhode Island to finish up his culinary degree at Johnson & Wales University. He would like to eventually be a teacher at a culinary school.
Katz heard about the Ocean Spray recipe contest in a culinary magazine. He loves to cook with his native Asian flavors, but cranberry is not a typical Asian ingredient. “I kind of wanted to see what kind of a mixture or fusion I could make with the sesame oil and the ginger, with the sweetness of the cranberry,” he said. He tested his creation on his folks and some colleagues. Katz will go to New York City in October to cook his dish for a panel of judges, including Food Network star Tyler Florence. Wish him luck.
Here is Patrick. He stays very busy running his two Roanoke restaurants, Blues BBQ and the new Rodney’s Chicken & Fish on Orange Avenue. But not so busy that he hasn’t been perfecting his pizza recipe for the past year. He says he had to submit the recipe, an essay about the recipe and a biography in order to be selected as a finalist. He will travel to Orlando, Fla. Sept. 9-13 to cook his pizza for the judges. You can learn more about this contest at the American Pizza Championship Web site.
Make us proud, Patrick!