Executive Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli, who appears on Food Network's "Chopped" and "Iron Chef," will join an experienced judging panel of Safeway chefs and executives to select the winning chef who will join the culinary team.
"We know our busy shoppers want delicious, healthier and convenient meals," says Mike Minasi, president of marketing at Safeway.
"Our state-of-the-art Culinary Kitchens feature 4,000 square feet of food development work space, including a kitchen set-up reminiscent of what our shoppers have in their homes. It is here that we are able to develop innovative Safeway food products tailored to what our shoppers want – great tasting food at affordable prices."
100 Percent Natural for Everyone
Safeway set a high bar with the launch of its 100 percent natural Open Nature product line, which contains nothing artificial, is minimally processed and provides shoppers with extensive natural food choices in a variety of categories throughout the store.
The judging team will be looking for a chef who demonstrates a passion for innovation and uses fresh and healthy ingredients when creating his or her recipe. The recipes must not only be made with 100 percent natural ingredients and full of flavor, but must also be designed with the at-home cook in mind.
"We are the first to host a major competition where a talented chef has the opportunity to win a new job and develop a product that will be on the shelf in a major national grocery store," says Joe Ennen, senior vice president of consumer brands at Safeway.
"We are excited to find a well-rounded food expert who has a passion for innovation and is able to execute the highest level of recipe and product development to join our team."
Safeway will be hosting the regional cook-offs at the following three campuses: California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago on April 23rd, 25th, and 27th respectively. Safeway is encouraging top-notch chefs everywhere, from culinary schools to restaurants, to participate in this competition.
Let the Competition Begin
Unlike other job submission processes, this opportunity begins on Facebook where candidates and fans alike can follow the entire process, including the call for submissions; a national "People's Choice" vote, running April 9-20; regional cook-offs during the end of April; and the final cook-off at the Safeway Culinary Kitchens on May 15.
The winner will be awarded a full-time position at the Safeway Culinary Kitchens think tank, which is committed to developing best-in-class store brand foods that help shoppers find inspiration for affordable meals. And, their winning recipe will be sold as an Open Nature Skillet Meal in stores across the country.
Finalists will receive prizes for their hard work and participation, with third place winning $1,000 and second place winning $2,000.
Be sure to check the Safeway Facebook page regularly for competition updates and information on the local events. You can also converse with other fans on Twitter using the hashtag #SafewayChef.
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 1,694 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $41.1 billion in 2010. The company's common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY.