PLEASANTON, Calif., May 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- After a three-month nationwide search, a People's Choice vote, three regional cook-off events, and one final cook-off event, Safeway (NYSE: SWY) has found its next chef. Dave Histed has won the "Search for Our Next Chef" competition, a first-of-its-kind opportunity in which chefs from across the country competed for a full-time position with the Safeway Culinary Kitchens and the chance to have their recipe sold as an Open Nature™ Skillet Meal in Safeway stores. The Safeway Culinary Kitchens, a 4,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art kitchen at Safeway's headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif., develops best-in-class foods that help shoppers find affordable meal inspiration.
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"Dave displayed tremendous food creativity, expertise and passion throughout this challenging competition," said Mike Minasi, president of marketing at Safeway. "These attributes make him an ideal fit for the Culinary Kitchens team. But the real winners are the Safeway shoppers who will get to enjoy the delicious, affordable and healthy food innovations that Dave, along with our talented Culinary Kitchens chefs, will create."
The competition concluded today with the final cook-off event at the Safeway Culinary Kitchens, where two finalists were tasked with preparing their skillet recipe and then presenting to an experienced judging panel consisting of Safeway executives and Executive Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli, who appears on Food Network's "Chopped" and "Iron Chef." After a heated competition and extensive deliberation, the judges agreed that Histed's Open Nature Skillet Meal dish, "Thai Basil Shrimp with Curry Jasmine Rice," made from 100 percent natural ingredients and designed with the at-home cook in mind, was the winner.
"The level of intensity we saw in the Safeway Culinary Kitchens during the final leg of this competition was unmatched," said Guarnaschelli. "These chefs competed fiercely to land this coveted position, and left a strong impression on all of the judges. Safeway shoppers will thoroughly enjoy Dave's winning Open Nature Skillet Meal dish."
Histed, who was previously a chef at Big Bowl – a Midwest chain of Chinese and Thai restaurants that are committed to natural ingredients and sustainability – joins an experienced team of chefs in the Safeway Culinary Kitchens, all of whom have studied extensively at renowned culinary schools and top dining destinations. In addition to developing recipes for Safeway brands, including Open Nature, Histed will gain invaluable industry knowledge and use his culinary expertise to benefit Safeway shoppers across the country.
Safeway Inc. is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, based on sales. The company operates 1,675 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $43.6 billion in 2011. The company's common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY. www.Safeway.com