Announcing the winners of our New Culinary Heights competition
The idea behind our “Heights of Talent” initiative is to use XO and our parent company Vista Global’s resources to support talented chefs, musicians, and authors. We accomplish this by generating awareness for them among our sophisticated flying community, and the many thousands who follow us on social media. This will help extend awareness of their talents, build their reputations, and accelerate their careers as life returns to normal.
For our “New Culinary Heights” launch, we challenged the culinary community to apply their imaginations and talents to the inherent limits of preparing a meal at 30,000 feet. We had some superb entrants to choose from, and our three winners represent different backgrounds and culinary approaches, while all working within the guidelines we provided. Each of our winners will have their meals prepared and served on our popular New York to South Florida route, one flight per week during the month of November.
Winner 1: Will Donaldson
We are honored that news of our competition reached Chapala, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where Will Donaldson’s well-reviewed restaurant BienBar has been delighting diners with its inspired menu, relying on local food sourced from farmer’s markets.
Will’s head chef is Maria, who – as he told us – “learned to cook in the barrio of Chapala. She has taken my recipes and imbued them with her palate.”
• Appetizer: Caprese salad with Veuve Clicquot
• Entrée: Steak in a reduction of red wine with jet potatoes, served with a robust and aromatic Cain Cuvee
• Dessert: Maria’s legendary chocolate mousse, made with artisanal Mexican chocolate served with strawberry
Winner 2: Maurice Farmer
Chef Maurice “Mo” Farmer has an extraordinary culinary resume. He earned a prestigious James Beard Award nomination, appeared on the show “Deadliest Catch,” and ran kitchens in world-class restaurants around the world from Dubai, to Norwegian Cruise Line. He was hit hard by the pandemic and lost his Chef Mo Food Truck.
Appetizer: Chef Mo’s Cobb Salad with Avocream
Entrée: Chef Mo’s Arugula Lasagna with Walnut Pesto
Dessert: Chef Mo’s “I Apologize” Cheesecake
Winner 3: Thomas Preti
Thomas is the proprietor of Thomas Preti Events to Savor , an innovative culinary design and event management company in the Tri-State Area that has run thousands of events at the most prestigious venues since 1987.
Here we have included a traditional first course, entrée, and dessert menu, as well as, inspiration from his new Preti, Set, Go! collection, a ready-to-go-experience launched in response to the pandemic.
Appetizer: Roasted Kabocha Squash and Winter Chicories with Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese fig dressing
Entrée: Roasted Chicken “Pot Au Feu” with roasted vegetables and truffled chicken consommé
Dessert: Autumn Spice Cake with brown sugar crumbs, poached pear, and vanilla ice cream
We are thrilled by the quality of the entrants and feel privileged to be able to present their talents to our community. We look forward to supporting others in different creative pursuits.
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