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Watch the 2020 Sierra Chef Challenge

For the first round, chefs were given four secret ingredients; Venison New York Steak and Ora Wild Salmon Filet donated from Sierra Meats, farm-fresh peaches, and micro arugula from Indigenous Farms. For round two, chef’s were given Zucchini, Squash, Harissa Sauce, and Grilled Artichoke Hearts donated by Chef’s Warehouse. For the first round, chefs also had to pair their meal with one of two cocktails from Bently Heritage, including;

Juniper Grove Atrium Gin is a contemporary estate-spirit made locally at Bently Heritage Estate Distillery just east of Lake Tahoe in the Carson Valley. Atrium is made exclusively from grains that were grown on the Bently Ranch.

Source One Vodka Rested in Oak Sherry Casks is a single-estate spirit made at Bently Heritage Estate Distillery just east of Lake Tahoe in the Carson Valley. It is made exclusively from grains that were grown on the Bently Ranch.

Following both rounds of judging, Chef Dean Hiatt of Poor Red’s was awarded the coveted 2020 Sierra Chef title.

His mouthwatering dishes included:

Plate 1, Main Ingredients, Bison, Peaches, Micro Arugula

Grilled Bison Steaks on a bed of herb butter creamy polenta, sauteed swish chard, grilled peach, micro arugula. Paired with a Bently Heritage Old Fashioned.

Plate 2, Main Ingredients, Salmon, Zucchini, Artichoke Hearts, Harissa

Pan seared, Picante infused, Skin on crispy salmon over Mesquite smoked Italian squash and zucchini. Honey and Rose Harissa glaze, Artichoke heart bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and  raw Picante salami. Fried Picante crisps, shaved radish celery leaf peluche.

The Sierra Chef Challenge features local talents battling it out for the coveted Sierra Chef title.

Past Competitors

Tashawna Grube, Cold Water Brewery & Grill

Native to Pennsylvania, Tashawna’s passion for cooking began early and was nurtured by her Grandmother while working in her family’s restaurant.

After graduating with honors from  IUP Academy of Culinary Arts in Punxsutawney, Tashawna expanded her training working in kitchens throughout North Carolina and Western Pennsylvania, where she helped in the opening of the Fort Worth Restaurant and was granted the Head Chef position at only 23 years old.

Tashawna landed in South Lake Tahoe 9 years ago after accepting a friend’s invitation to “come stay for the winter”.  She landed a job at The Brewery, where she was quickly named Chef and first began her relationship with Debbie Brown. With the dream of someday owning her own restaurant, Tashawna stepped away from cooking to work as a food service sales rep and front of house manager in order to understand every aspect of hospitality. She enjoys traveling, live music and is an avid thrifter with a penchant for 80’s & 90’s memorabilia.

Tashawna has worked as both the Sous Chef and Head Chef at Cold Water Brewery & Grill where she is proud to be part of a management team composed solely of women.

Executive Chef Lonny Huot, Edgewood Tahoe

A native of New Hampshire, Lonny has 30 years of culinary experience in luxury hotels & resorts across the United States. Notable properties include the Willard Intercontinental in Washington DC and the five-star Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.

He was the opening chef at the Club at Hammock Beach in Palm Coast, Florida, and the resort executive chef at the Villas of Grand Cypress Orlando, Florida. When not in the kitchen you may find Lonny on the golf course or at the beach with his wife and children.


Chef Dean Hiatt, Poor Red’s

As Northern California native, Dean Hiatt, was raised fishing, hiking and exploring El Dorado County and beyond. Following High School, Dean began chasing his childhood dreams and spent time as both a Firefighter in Cameron Park and a touring member of the band, Fenix-TX. After a few world wind years, he decided to return home to Cameron Park.

Never one to linger for long, Dean took a trip to Vegas with friends and fell in love with the atmosphere and the food, and realized that he could make his love for cooking into a career. He made the move to Vegas in 2008 and accepted a job with David Burke, a celebrity chef from New York. As he worked his way up to Sous Chef at the Venetian, Dean learned more about food and flavor than he thought possible.

Dean then joined the new Pause Lounge and Kitchen in Roseville as their Sous Chef, and late went on to work at Firestone Public House in Midtown Sacramento and The Old Firehouse, which one awarded the Best Fine Dining in Sacramento on the Food Network.

Returning back to El Dorado County with 19 years of experience under his belt, Dean committed himself to helping raise the phoenix that is known as Poor Red’s. Since then, Dean has been voted as one of the top Chefs of El Dorado County the past two years, as well as helped Poor Red’s win over 19 awards during that same time, making Poor Red’s the most award-winning restaurant in the entire county.

Chef Nicola Ambra, Gastromaniac Homemade Pasta & Pizza

Nicola Ambra possesses a passion for the culinary. His journey began at the age of 14, where he worked in a family friends’ restaurant in his hometown. Thereafter, he pursued a degree in hotel management, which led him to gaining experience in the hotel industry at Lake Como’s Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Villa D’este. He then assisted in the opening of Enterprise Hotel in Milan. At the age of 22, a vacation to California, led him to begin a life in San Francisco, where his passion for the culinary only expanded.

Having experience mostly at the front of the house, he desired to deepen his knowledge of the back of the house. This desire took him back to school, Alma Cooking School in Parma, Italy where he took on a course of basic technique of Italian cuisine. Once he completed the course, he returned back to San Francisco where he became the general manager at Farina restaurant and then Assistant Manager at Locanda restaurant, both high volume restaurants.

With all of this experience under his belt, there was only one piece of the puzzle that was missing, owning his own restaurant. After conducting research and tinkering with the idea of a restaurant for 2 years, he envisioned a pizza and pasta gastronomy concept. This took him back to Milan where he then took a course in pizza making at Pizza Italian Academy. Soon after, the perfect opportunity presented itself in South Lake Tahoe, CA. His vision became reality in December 2019 as Gastromaniac Homemade Pasta & Pizza open its doors, offering authentic Italian homemade delicacies to the region.