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Gratitude for that support from the restaurants led to this year's big addition: the Chef of the Fest award. "All these chefs come out, and it's definitely a drain on their resources -- an event like ours takes a lot of staff, and a lot of product. We wanted to thank them, so we thought, 'Why not have a nice award for the chefs who excel at the Grand Event? It started as a small idea, and it just snowballed. It was amazing to see the number of sponsors who came on board. Gary Thompson of Viejas Casino won this year for his grilled tequila marinated shrimp with spicy tomato gazpacho. He'll take home a trip for two to Turtle Island, Fiji; a professional range from U.S. Food Service, $3000; 12 live lobsters, an entire steer, and more. It's just total abundance."

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