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Viejas Casino chef wins award

7 December 2007

AN DIEGO, California -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Viejas Casino is proud to announce Executive Chef Gary Thompson was awarded the "Chef of the Fest" award at the prestigious 4th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

Southern California's largest wine and culinary event featured 55 professional San Diego County chefs competing for handsome prizes and the high-stakes culinary "Chef of the Fest" award. The "Chef of the Fest" was announced during the Festival's Grand Tasting on Saturday, November 17. Each chef selected from one of five categories to be judged including Raw Foods, Meats, Poultry, Seafood/Fish and Desserts. Chef Thompson, who chose to be judged in the Seafood/Fish category, won over a panel of celebrity judges by preparing his Grilled Tequila Marinated Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Gazpacho. Chef Thompson not only walked away with the esteemed title of the first-ever "Chef of the Fest," but also received a handsome prize package including a vacation of a lifetime to the exclusive Turtle Island Fiji.

"It is truly an honor and privilege to be awarded this title," said Thompson. "I have a deep passion for culinary arts, and am thankful to Viejas and my team members for giving me the opportunity to share my passion with thousands of people everyday. Being part of this competition was amazing. The caliber of chefs that surrounded me was incredible and I am extremely grateful for this recognition."

As Executive Chef at Viejas Casino for the past eight years, Thompson actively manages all aspects of kitchen operations for the Casino's six award-winning restaurants, including the elegant Grove Steakhouse and the contemporary V Lounge. With a demanding schedule, Thompson's experience and building of an outstanding team has afforded him the opportunity to continue to craft culinary creations that have won him several awards, including the Five Diamond Award for one of the top ten restaurants in the United States and two consecutive Gold Medallion awards from the California Restaurant Association. From his humble beginnings as a dishwasher in a local steakhouse, his passion has grown into a noteworthy dedication to the culinary arts.

Chef Thompson will also be a headlining chef with his own cooking class and appearances during the 5th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival in 2008.

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