And the award goes to. Demetrios Haronis, just named "Chef of the Year" by the Professional Chef's Association of South Jersey. Haronis is Director of Culinary Operations at Tropicana Casino & Resort, where he oversees all of the resort's dining options.
The Professional Chef's Association (PCA) of South Jersey is the local branch of the American Culinary Federation, the largest and most prestigious chefs' organization in America. Each year, the PCA considers hundreds of chef candidates throughout southern New Jersey for the "Chef of the Year" honor.
Winners must demonstrate professionalism, camaraderie, education and excellence in the culinary field. They must also be actively involved in the PCA's events and charitable initiatives. Haronis joined Tropicana as a sous-chef in 1994. Over the following 16 years, he worked his way through all of Tropicana's onsite restaurants, gaining invaluable experience and honing his culinary skills.
In 2010, he was named Executive Chef of FIN, Tropicana's prime seafood and steak dining experience. Together with Tropicana, Haronis adopted a cooking philosophy that spotlights New Jersey food and wine, using local and sustainable ingredients. This past summer, Demetrios' showcasing of the Garden State led him to the Governor's Mansion in Princeton were he was named New Jersey's Top Seafood Chef at the Jersey State Seafood Challenge. His win qualified him to represent and show off Jersey Fresh Seafood on a national level in New Orleans at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off.
At FIN, Haronis has combined his Mediterranean heritage with the freshest local seafood available to create a unique menu of imaginative coastal cuisine. Under his guidance, FIN not only earned a multitude of fans, but numerous awards and accolades including a coveted Zagat rating. His success at FIN led to another promotion to his current role as Director of Culinary Operations.
"I am truly honored to receive this special recognition," Haronis said. "I love problem solving, the large volume of guests we accommodate, and the diverse nationalities we come in contact with. Every day there is something new to see and learn." "We at the Tropicana have always been very proud of our food and beverage program and the professionalism that Chef Demetrios and his staff display every day.
With this win against all the wonderful chefs in South Jersey, we know the rest of the culinary community feels the same way," said Ray Bertschy, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Tropicana.