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ST. HELENA, Calif. – Rebecca Spence of Vancouver, Wash. today won the Second Annual Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in California’s Napa Valley. In the spirit of the contest’s focus on fresh, local ingredients, her Crispy Orange Chicken with Fennel, Avocado and Orange Salad featured locally grown ingredients including navel oranges, fennel, avocado and Foster Farms fresh chicken. Spence’s Crispy Orange Chicken with Fennel, Avocado and Orange Salad beat out nearly 2,000 recipes to win the $10,000 grand prize and a one-year supply of Foster Farms fresh chicken.* Spence competed against five other finalists from California, Oregon and Washington.

The six finalists prepared and presented their dishes to an esteemed panel of food media judges including Liam Mayclem, host and producer of CBS 5 TV’s Eye on The Bay Carolyn Jung, Food Gal blogger and former San Jose Mercury News food editor Natalie Haughton, “Slow & Easy” cookbook author and food journalist and Narsai David, food and wine editor at San Francisco’s KCBS Radio. Judges made decisions based on taste, use of fresh, local ingredients, appearance/appeal, simplicity/ease of making and originality. Guests in attendance also selected Jennifer Daskevich’s Chicken and Quinoa with Figs, Spinach and Mint recipe for the “People’s Choice Award” for best use of local ingredients.

“Foster Farms is committed to delivering locally grown fresh chicken to the store in 48 hours or less, and that is why we put extra emphasis on using fresh, local ingredients in the judging criteria for this year’s contest,” said Ira Brill, director of marketing for Foster Farms. “All of our contestants’ recipes highlighted the agricultural bounty of California, Oregon and Washington while at the same time making Foster Farms local chicken the star of the dish.”

“It was an honor to sit with my fellow judges and taste the variety of recipes competing,” said Narsai David, food and wine editor of KCBS Radio. “I speak for all of us in saying we were equally impressed with the creativity, use of local ingredients, and variety of fresh chicken dishes created. It was a difficult decision, ultimately resulting in a win for Rebecca Spence’s Crispy Orange Chicken with Fennel, Avocado and Orange Salad because of her use of local ingredients, taste and presentation.”

Rebecca Spence was delighted with the win, “I never dreamed I’d win a contest of this caliber. This recipe started out as something my family loved and I kept working on it until I felt it best represented the flavor and integrity of the fresh ingredients – fennel, orange and avocado. I’ve always been a fan of Foster Farms and will continue to be. I hope to take a vacation to Paris and to add my young grandson’s college fund.” She added, “the most important ingredient to cook with is love.”

Foster Farms is committed to providing fresh chicken that is fresh, locally grown, always natural and delivered to stores in 48 hours or less. Recipes submitted mirrored this commitment by using Foster Farms fresh chicken and other local ingredients.

As far as trend indicators, many of the recipes submitted this year called for whole chicken and boneless, skinless thighs boneless, skinless breast recipes were featured in the majority of recipes. Contestants also often incorporated fruits, such as cherries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, figs and pineapples. Quinoa, couscous and panko were popular accompaniments and turmeric and Asian spices were prevalent in many recipes. For complete recipes and details visit Call for entries for the 2012 contest will be announced early next year.

Rebecca Spence’s winning Crispy Orange Chicken with Fennel, Avocado and Orange Salad recipe:

1 to 1 ½ pounds Foster Farms thin-sliced chicken breast fillets
1 tbls orange juice
1 tbls champagne vinegar (may substitute white wine vinegar)
2 tsp sugar
Zest from 2 large navel oranges (reserve one orange)
2 tsp salt, divided
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
1 large avocado
1 serrano chile
½ cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup peanut oil

In large bowl, whisk together orange juice, champagne vinegar, sugar, one teaspoon orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Set aside.

Cut white pith away from reserved zested orange cut orange into small cubes. Chop fennel bulb into small cubes. Peel avocado, remove pit and chop into small cubes. Cut chile in half lengthwise, remove and discard seeds and finely mince. Place orange pieces, fennel, avocado and chile in bowl containing dressing toss gently and refrigerate while preparing chicken.

Preheat oven to 200° F. Place flour in shallow bowl combine with remaining salt and pepper. In second shallow bowl, beat eggs well with fork. Place panko breadcrumbs in third shallow bowl stir in zest from one orange.

In large skillet over medium high heat, warm peanut oil. Dredge each chicken fillet in flour mixture, then dip in eggs and coat with panko-orange mixture. Place coated chicken in hot oil and sauté, turning, about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked throughout. Remove chicken with tongs and place on bakers rack over a cookie sheet in oven to keep warm.

To serve, place salad on plates. Top each salad with one or two chicken fillets.

The six finalists won $1,000 and were chosen from nearly 2,000 home, amateur and professional chefs residing in California, Oregon and Washington who submitted their prized, original, fresh chicken recipes for consideration. Other finalists competed with the following recipes:

• Asian Braised Chicken Thighs with Soybean Salad - Roxanne Chan, Albany, Calif.

• Chicken Quinoa with Figs, Spinach and Mint - Jennifer Daskevich, Los Angeles, Calif.

• Chicken with Cherry Tapenade over Creamy Pancetta Polenta - Tina Hoban, Bellingham, Wash.

• Crispy Basil Skinned Chicken Breast with Peach Pink Peppercorn Compote - Russell Kool, Hillsboro, Ore.

• Pan Fried Chicken with Blueberry Pinot Noir Reduction and Goat Cheese Polenta -Timmy Baker, Eugene, Ore.

Family-owned Foster Farms, with a more than 70-year legacy of chicken farming in California, joins the California Poultry Federation and other leading agricultural groups supporting Eat Local, Buy California Grown. The company holds true to its commitment to fresh and natural poultry grown local to each region. The company owns private ranches throughout California and works with local, family-owned farms throughout Washington and Oregon to ensure that Foster Farms chicken is delivered truly fresh to stores within 48 hours or less, unlike out-of-state chicken which could take four days or more.

About Foster Farms
Family-owned and operated, the company continues its legacy of excellence and commitment to quality established by its founders, Max and Verda Foster. Foster Farms specializes in fresh, all natural chicken products free of preservatives, additives or injected sodium enhancers. Based in California's Central Valley, with ranches also in the Pacific Northwest, the company's fresh chicken is produced in or near each region served. Foster Farms also produces delicious pre-marinated, ready-to-cook and fully cooked products that meet the quality and convenience needs of today's home cooks, retailers, warehouse clubs and foodservice customers.

Food safety is Foster Farms’ highest priority and the company reminds consumers to always follow safe handling, preparation and storage guidelines for the preparation of fresh poultry products. All fresh poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (boneless and ground) and 180°F and 170°F (bone-in: breast and drums thighs and wings). Visit to learn more.

*Grand Prize winner will receive 104 $10 vouchers good for fresh Foster Farms chicken.


Editor’s Note: For interviews with contestants, contest and recipe photos, etc. contact Fineman PR at 415-392-1000 or