By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — The right combination of grapes, pistachios and cheese got the top chef at The Plains at Parish Homestead in Oneonta into the winning circle of a national competition.
Amanda Gargano, dining services director and executive chef at the senior living community in Oneonta, has been selected as the winner of the Emmi Roth Grand Cru Getaway Contest. Her recipe for Grand Cru Gruyere Cheesecake with Concord Grapes and Grand Cru Pistachio Tuile earned her a culinary vacation package valued at $10,000, as well as a two-page recipe spread in Santé magazine, according to a media release from Emmi Roth USA, a provider of specialty and artisan cheeses and dairy products.
“Although in America, savory cheese is not often used in desserts, it should be — it's delicious,” Gargano said in the release. “And with an exceptional product like Grand Cru Gruyere, it's easy to make even the most ordinary desserts extraordinary.” She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Emmi Roth marketing manager Becky Ryan said the recipe contest was for chefs. About 30 entered, and six recipes were tested.
“This one was really good. Everyone who tasted it said this is the winner,” she said. Gargano is free to choose where her vacation package will take her.
The company is one of the main producers of Gruyere-style cheese in the country, Ryan said. While the cheese is popular in Europe, she said, it’s not one that many Americans are aware of. The contest is a way to encourage more usage, she said.
Gargano’s recipe was selected for its creativity, uniqueness and flavor by a panel of Emmi Roth USA chefs and staff from submissions around the country, Gargano said.
This included Regi Hise, corporate executive chef and director of culinary development at Emmi Roth USA.
“The flavors of sweet and savory in the crust were delicious and perfectly balanced, and the recipe stood out from the others in one distinct way,” he said in the release. “It was the one I wanted to keep eating and eating and eating! For me, it was the hands-down winner.”
Gargano grew up in an Italian restaurant family, which instilled her love of all things culinary from a young age. After an internship at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, she came to the Plains.
Her winning recipe can be found at: www.rothcheese.com/grand-cru-gruyere-cheesecake-with-concord-grapes-and-grand-cru-pistachio-tuile/.