Chef Geovanny Villagran, whose current “gig” is the La Casa de Mi Abuela (Mawmaw’s House) food truck, took the title of 2021 Diamond Chef in a twice-postponed, ultimately virtual-for-viewers competition April 22. His winning dish: Salmon Ceviche, featuring a roasted poblano pepper dip and caramelized baby turnips.
He beat out defending champ Jordon Davis of Chenal Country Club; Bonner Cameron of Allsopp & Chapple; Matias De Matthaeis of the Capital Hotel; Brian Townley, currently at large; and Joseph Salgueiro of the Pleasant Valley Country Club.
Inspired by Food Network shows “Iron Chef America” and “Chopped,” competitors were presented with a mystery ingredient just prior to the start of the competition — in this case, a whole salmon — that must be prominently presented in the courses. Judges considered plate presentation, creativity and taste.
The competition is a fundraiser for the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College Foundation and the culinary and hospitality programs at the college’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute in Little Rock. Event coordinator Adora Curry reports raising “close to $90k during a pandemic.”