Yakima, Washington – Yakima boss Shawn Niles finished third in the Taste of America Challenge (TOA) of the World Food Championship (WFC) and will now move on to the next part of the competition in November.
This is not the first time Niles has received an award for his food. In fact, he was named Yakima’s Favorite Chef two years in a row, competed in other WFC categories, and cooked MasterChef for Gordon Ramsay on the 2017 show.
According to Niles, it was what Ramsay said to him that inspired him to combine his love for his community with his cooking talent.
“I’m on the show with Gordon Ramsay and Gordon Ramsay looks at me and says Shawn, it’s clear that you were born to serve your community, but it’s also clear that you were born to cook,” said Niles . “I came back thinking, maybe there is something more to it, maybe we can take this further.”
That same summer, Niles teamed up with friends to form Fat Pastor Productions, which now has two restaurants – Il Grasso and The Lab. Niles and friends also started one of the first legal underground restaurants in the United States.
Although Niles was previously recognized, the anticipation of his placement on the TOA Challenge was exciting.
“M“My friends and I are looking at this and we all see – they let go of the competitors when they win, starting from 30th place and so we kind of count down during the whole process,” said Niles. I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re in the top 25’. ‘Oh, we’re in the top 20. “” Oh, we’re in the top 15’, then suddenly we’re like ‘we’re in the top 5’. “
WFC announced the leaderboard over a three-day period, and Niles said he and his friends were on the edge of their places the entire time.
After Niles won third place in the TOA Challenge, he is qualified for the move to the sandwich category in November. This takes place in Dallas and he will compete against 1,500 other chefs.
Niles has to present an original sandwich, a French dip, and then make an omega-3 sausage sandwich from one of the sponsors of the competition. At the moment, Niles said, he was still thinking about which original sandwich he would make.
“You have a real opportunity to turn something people probably eat for lunch almost every day of their lives into something that may earn them the title of the best sandwich in the world, “said Niles.
If he wins the title of Sandwich Champion, Niles will win $ 10,000 and advance to the final table. If he wins the final table, he will win $ 100,000.
World Food Championship President and CEO Mike McCloud said he believes Shawn Niles has what it takes to perform well.
“I think he has a good chance not only of taking home the grand sandwich prize, but likely doing very well at the final table, “said McCloud.
Niles said that Yakima has long been considered a culinary wasteland and that he wants to change that image by recognizing his food.
“Now we’re ready to put Yakima on the map as food, ”said Niles. “We have the best wine, the best beer, we have the most incredible products and the most incredible agriculture. Everyone in the world needs to be able to see Yakima and understand what it is and what we are capable of and what we put on the table. “
McCloud announced that WFC is teaming up with Niles to bring something new to Yakima, but details are yet to be determined.