Sacramento, CA, Aug. 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The NatureSweet® Glorys® Homegrown Tomato & Chef’s Challenge came to the Raley’s store location 2075 Fair Oaks Blvd. Sacramento, CA on Saturday, August 18th to find and award the best homegrown tomatoes and tomato dishes of 2018. This year’s event was emceed by Produce Man Michael Marks.

The Homegrown Challenge is comprised of two main contests: a Chef’s Challenge where three amateur chefs compete in a live cook-off; and a homegrown tomato challenge where gardeners are invited to bring in their homegrown tomatoes to see how they measure up to the best of the best. A total of $5,000 in prizes was awarded at the event:

_Lauren Crosariol _ of Rancho Cordova won the $1,000 grand prize in the Glorys™ Tomatoes Chef’s Challenge after impressing the judges with her _B.L.T. Sandwich masterpiece.

___ Norm Kenney __ of _ Galt won the $1,000 grand prize in the small tomato growing skill category with his _Nature’s Bite _ variety of tomatoes and _ Deborah Fraga of _ Folsom won the $1,000 grand prize in the large tomato growing skill category with her_ Beefsteak _ variety of tomatoes.

Our grand prize winners faced stiff competition from the following runners-up. The second runner up received $500 and the third runner up received $250:

-- Glorys Tomatoes Chef’s Challenge o 2nd Runner-up: _Joseph Crosariol__with his Street Tacos recipe. o 3rd Runner-up: __Ellen Johnson__with her_Chicken Sandwichrecipe. -- Tomato Growing Skill Challenge o 2nd Small Tomato Runner-up: _Michelle Blomberg o 3nd Small Tomato Runner-up: _Lauren Crosariol o 2nd Large Tomato Runner-up: Mark Valencia o 3rd Large Tomato Runner-up: Nina Tourville

The finalists for the Chef’s Challenge were pre-selected from an online essay contest held by NatureSweet, and required to come compete for their prizes in front of a live audience at the event. The cooking finalists were given one hour to select their ingredients, prepare and present their dishes to a panel of local judges. The three dishes prepared were judged based on flavor and presentation.

Winners of the Tomato Growing Skill competition were chosen based on overall appearance/color test and brix testing. Brix tests determine sweetness -- the higher the brix number, the better the taste. The finalist tomatoes were then taste-tested by the judges for best homegrown flavor. 6_ finalists were chosen from _36__entries.

NatureSweet’s distinguished judges panel included, Raley’s Produce Merchant Michael Schutt, Raley’s Store Manager Bill Lackey , local Sacramento Chef Patrick Mulvaney and Robert Bruno & Scott Albertson from Rocket Farms.

All remaining tomatoes along with unopened Chef’s Challenge pantry ingredients were donated to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services after the event.

JPEG photos of the event & winners are available from Madison Stahly at mstahly@naturesweet.com or 210.408.8551.

About NatureSweet®

NatureSweet® Tomatoes is the leading grower of premium, branded, best-tasting fresh tomatoes in North America. Always vine-ripened and hand-picked at the peak of freshness, only NatureSweet® tomatoes guarantee great taste all year round. NatureSweet tomatoes are carefully grown, harvested and packaged by more than 9,000 full-time Associates, and are sold at major grocers, mass retailers, club stores and food service operators in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Known for award-winning quality and innovative packaging, NatureSweet® is also committed to having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on the communities in which they operate. NatureSweet Cherubs®, SunBursts®, Glorys®, Jubilees™, Eclipses™, Twilights™ and Constellation® are trademarks of NS Brands, Ltd.

Attachments

-- Raley_Supermarket_logo.svg -- HGC Grand Prize Winners

Lori Castillo NS Brands, LTD 210-861-5320 loricastillo@naturesweet.com