Former executive chef for Disneyland competed in this year’s Head to Head Cook-Off
PASO ROBLES — On Saturday, May 7, the Paso Robles Main Street Association held one of their first big events to start summer, the Olive and Lavender Festival.
“It was absolutely fabulous. We had lots and lots of people. All the vendors were happy,” said Norma Moye, the association’s executive director.
Vendors filled both sides of the park, and all expressed to Moye that they did very well during the event, which filled the park and downtown Paso with visitors and locals.
“Everybody was in a good mood, and we had a wonderful time,” Moye added.
While the weather started a bit windy, the afternoon mellowed out enough to be a beautiful spring day in Paso Robles. A survey passed out at the festival showed visitors came from all over California and a few even from New York.
During the festival, Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ Chef and owner Jeff Wiesinger emceed the Head to Head Cookoff near the Carnegie Library.
Former Paso Robles Police Chief Dennis Cassidy competed against Chef Justin Monson.
While serving as police chief, Cassidy found his passion for cooking and preparing gourmet food. He began hosting winemaker dinners with local wineries benefitting local charities. After retiring as chief in 2007, Cassidy continued his newfound passion. He is currently on the culinary staff at Eberle Winery.
Monson proved to be a tough competitor, given his impressive culinary background. His previous experience includes, but is not limited to, his apprenticeship at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, working for Auberge de Soleil Resort in Napa Valley, and later becoming the executive chef at Disneyland Resort’s exclusive Club 33.
Now, Monson is fulfilling his lifelong dream of moving to the Paso Robles area, where he is executive chef at Oak & Vine.
The prepared meals, a nicoise salad and filet mignon, were judged by Jennifer Harris, Juanetta Perkins, and Terry Mitchell.
In the end, Monson came out on top as the winner.
“The cookoff was fantastic,” Olive and Lavender Festival committee member Diane Cassidy said. “The food was amazing, and the people that were involved were outstanding.”
This year was the 18th Annual Olive Festival and the 14th Annual Lavender Festival.
For more information on the Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association, visit pasoroblesdowntown.org/main-street/about-main-street/