Culinary Student Plates Winning Recipe at $5,000 Galbani® Caprese Challenge

Aspiring chefs challenged to use Fresh Mozzarella in new ways

Jun 09, 2010, 13:01 ET from Lactalis Deli, Inc.

NEW YORK, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week, Craig Growney, a 21-year-old student from The Culinary Institute of America got creative with fresh mozzarella, earning a $5,000 cash prize and bragging rights from Galbani® Cheese. Growney competed against two other aspiring chefs and wowed an esteemed panel of judges with his recipe: Galbani® Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Carpaccio with Sauteed Snapper and Basil-Arugula Pesto. As Italy's favorite cheese brand with 125 years of expertise, Galbani®, now freshly crafted in the U.S.A., created the Galbani® Caprese Challenge for aspiring chefs to inspire creative cooking with Fresh Mozzarella.

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(Photo: )

"Winning in the Galbani® Caprese Challenge is something I'm going to remember for a long time," Growney said. "It was a real challenge to cook outdoors, under time constraints, and present a creative recipe to the amazing judging panel... it was incredible. As for what I'm going to do with my $5,000 prize? I might take a trip to Italy to inspire my culinary dreams even further!"

The Galbani® Caprese Challenge invited aspiring chefs to create an original spin-off of the traditional caprese salad by using core ingredients including Galbani® Fresh Mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil. Three contestants competed on the Galbani outdoor stage during the International Cultures Festival in Manhattan. Each contestant had 45 minutes to prepare their recipe in an outdoor kitchen, plate their dish and serve it to a panel of three judges. Contestants were rated based on the following criteria:

  • Organization: Utilization of core ingredients (10 points)
  • Cooking Skills and Culinary Technique: Creativity, skills, originality (10 points)
  • Taste: Flavor and texture; Ingredient compatibility and balance of flavor; Presentation (20 points)

In the end, Growney edged out competitors, Caitlin Carlton and Joseph Hawkes with a score of 102 points out of a possible 120 points. The prestigious panel of judges included: Galbani® Italian expert Chef Francesco Berardinelli, Salvatore Rizzo of De Gustibus Cooking School and Vince LoRusso of Tony's DiNapoli Restaurant in New York. Lauded New York City media personality, Valerie Smaldone, served as emcee.

Check out Growney's winning recipe, Galbani® Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Carpaccio with Sauteed Snapper and Basil-Arugula Pesto online at  

About the Judges

Chef Francesco Berardinelli is well-known among the Italian culinary scene, having opened several restaurants during the course of his career. Born in Verbania on Lake Maggiore, Berardinelli infuses memories of his birth place through his cuisine. At just 24 years old, he opened his first restaurant, Osteria di Rendola, near his family's home in Tuscany. In 1999, Berardinelli opened Beccofino restaurant in Florence, which rose to rapid prominence among the city's dining scene. In 2000, he graced the cover of Wine Spectator, and featured in numerous articles in culinary magazines. Berardinelli also worked directly with the Alain Ducasse Group on the opening of new restaurants and publishing a series of cookbooks. Today, he continues working with the Alain Ducasse Group in Italy and abroad, and serves as a premiere consultant chef to the Galbani® brand of cheeses.

Salvatore Rizzo is the owner and director of De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy's Herald Square. Rizzo prides himself on developing innovative programs that reflect modern culinary trends. De Gustibus Cooking School showcases myriad talents, from established chefs and rising stars, to world-class sommeliers and food and wine lovers. Having dined with more than 100 of the world's top chefs including Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boulud and Daniel Humm, Rizzo hosts the most lauded food and wine experts as they share their stories and demonstrate their favorite recipes for guests to taste. A true master of hospitality, Rizzo fosters an environment where people can come together and share incredible food and wine moments, mirroring his experiences growing up in a Sicilian household that reinforced the inherent beauty and simplicity of food. For more information, visit

Vince LoRusso was born into an Italian restaurant family that dates back 75 years in New York City. The Amalfi restaurant was on 48th and Madison for sixty years.  Its original building was bought by the Rockefeller family in order to build the center. LoRusso has worked for many restaurants in New York along with Marriott Corporation at its 5 star hotels. From fine French (Le Metairie) to Trendy Italian (Barolo restaurant), LoRusso has seen his share and has tasted some of the best of New York's cuisine. He now spends his time at Tony's DiNapoli in Times Square managing Star studded Broadway events and family-style cooking.  LoRusso always encourages visits to Tony's to say hi while you enjoy giant Tuscan steaks and gaze at the endless wall of fame. Visit for more details.

About The Culinary Institute of America

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering bachelor's and associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts as well as certificate programs in culinary arts and professional wine studies. As the world's premier culinary college, the CIA has a network of more than 40,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Chiarello, Cat Cora, Steve Ells, Todd English, Duff Goldman, Sara Moulton, Charlie Palmer, and Roy Yamaguchi. The college has campuses in New York (Hyde Park), California (The CIA at Greystone, St. Helena), and Texas (San Antonio). In addition to its degree and certificate programs, the CIA offers courses for professionals and food enthusiasts. For more information, and a complete listing of program offerings at each site, visit the CIA online at

About Galbani® Cheese

Galbani® is one of the most prestigious Italian food companies worldwide, full of history and tradition. Founded in 1882 by Egidio Galbani, the company has continued to grow over the past 125-plus years, now selling over 400 products in 100 countries. Our unique and passionate approach to cheese making, and our commitment to quality and excellence throughout the years, have made Galbani® Italy's favorite cheese brand. Now, we're proud to be bringing this same passion to the United States, as we introduce Galbani® premium authentic Fresh Mozzarella, freshly crafted in the U.S.A., and Imported Mascarpone to millions of Americans and serve as their Italian cheese coach.

SOURCE Lactalis Deli, Inc.