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Gig Harbor Wine and Food Announces


Executive Chef Tin Nguyen will challenge Celebrity Chef Holly Smith

at the 2012 Gig Harbor Wine & Food Festival



GIG HARBOR, WA—The battle lines are drawn: Tin Nguyen, executive chef of the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, will take on Holly Smith, owner and executive chef of Café Juanita, in the Chef’s Challenge at the 2012 Gig Harbor Wine & Food Festival on July 14.


Nguyen has more than 25 years experience in professional kitchens, and his awards include two American Culinary Federation Gold Medals. He holds a degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., and is a certified executive chef with the American Culinary Federation. Since 2008, Nguyen has overseen three restaurants and all the banquet services for the hotel and resort operations for the Clearwater Casino.


“I sensed his excitement and joy about being a chef when we hired him in 2008,” said Gary Samuel, food and beverage director for the Clearwater Casino. “His food is also wonderful! He has truly brought the dining experience at Clearwater to the next level.”


Nguyen specializes in a variety of cuisines including traditional seafood, Asian and Creole, but he says he began with—and still loves to cook—all things Italian. “The spices in Italian cooking have a wonderful savor to them, whether you’re cooking a light dish or something more exotic. And your ability to expand and create your own dimension to each recipe is nearly limitless,” Nguyen said.


Nguyen will challenge this year’s Celebrity Chef Holly Smith, owner of Café Juanita in Kirkland. Smith received the 2008 Best Chef Northwest Award from the James Beard Foundation, and in 2011, she and Café Juanita were nominated by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant awards.


In addition to her many local and national awards, Smith appeared in Season 10 of “Iron Chef America” on the Food Channel, where her “cuisine reigned supreme” against Iron Chef Cat Cora. At Café Juanita, Smith emphasizes local, organic products while serving modern Northern-Italian-inspired cuisine.




The Chef’s Challenge this year will feature locally caught Dungeness crab from Taylor Shellfish Farms. Both chefs will be asked to prepare three items showcasing the crab—an appetizer, a main course and an optional course of the chefs’ choosing.


The chefs’ culinary creations will be evaluated by a panel of five judges that will include three selected dignitaries from the community and two audience members who have bid at auction for the honor. The judges’ table will have a microphone in order to interact with the chefs in the style of “Iron Chef America.”


Also auctioned off to audience members will be the sous chef position for each chef. The winning chef will receive a 3-litre, hand-etched and painted wine bottle from Fresh Northwest Design in Gig Harbor.


“It’s going to be action-packed,” said Victoria Trimmer, the event director for this year’s festival. “Both chefs are really promoters of a local, fresh, sustainable way of cooking, and they have one of our most universally loved local foods to work with. My mouth is watering already.”


The Third Annual Gig Harbor Wine & Food Festival is presented by the Gig Harbor Historic Waterfront Association. This year’s event will take place on the grounds of the Harbor History Museum on July 14, 2012. The event will include a grand tasting tent with more than 25 wineries, breweries, and restaurant and food purveyors represented. Also featured will be a wide selection of educational offerings, including wine seminars and cooking demonstrations. Well-known chefs and authors will be available for book signings. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on a variety of dining and winemaker dinner packages.


For more information about ticket sales and the 2012 Gig Harbor Wine & Food Festival, visit the website at, or contact Victoria Trimmer, event director, at or (206)399-5815.


The Gig Harbor Historic Waterfront Association (GHHWA), a Main StreetTM Organization, brings together community and waterfront stakeholders in order to encourage economic vitality and to preserve the historic character and quality of the area. Working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Washington State Main Street Program, the GHHWA is committed to implementing the Main Street ApproachTM, a community driven program used to encourage historic preservation and economic development in traditional small downtowns. For more information on the GHHWA, visit their website at, or contact Executive Director Mary DesMarais at or (253)514-0071.



In 2011, the GHHWA received the Excellence on Main Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Promotion” for the 2010 inaugural Gig Harbor Wine & Food Festival, an award given by the Washington State Main Street Program.