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Quesabirria Egg Rolls and Burrata-Ganoush Skewers Earn Top Honors in
Mozzarella and Fresh Mozzarella Categories in Real California Milk’s Foodservice Contest

Napa, Calif. (April XX, 2024) – The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced the winners of the “Great Mozzarella Showdown” online foodservice contest challenging professional chefs and culinary students to develop innovative dishes using California Mozzarella.

Mike Castaneda from Devour/The Dore in Wellington, Kan., took home the Mozzarella category prize for his Quesabirria Egg Rolls recipe. This savory dish includes three-hour braised birria with grated California Mozzarella, wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and fried, served with a bowl of savory consommé for dipping. Fresh Mozzarella category winner, Rebecca Peizer, from All Things Culinary in Napa, Calif., brought home the prize with her Burrata-Ganoush Skewers recipe, which features souvlaki-style Fresh Mozzarella fried in za’atar and served with a Ganoush-Stracciatella spread and lavash.

In addition to category champion status, each winning chef received $4,000 – $2,000 for being named a finalist and an additional $2,000 for winning their respective category.

“The response to this inaugural contest was tremendous – we were inspired by the many explorations of how a versatile ingredient like California Mozzarella can be used for more than pizza and pasta dishes,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB. “It points to the innovation we can achieve by partnering with chefs and the next generation of culinary professionals. We appreciate how they find ways to elevate our quality California products.”

The 2024 Great Mozzarella Showdown Recipe Contest finalists are as follows:


Fresh Mozzarella Category

CATEGORY WINNER: Burrata-Ganoush Skewers – Rebecca Peizer, All Things Culinary, Napa, Calif.

Description: This dish features crispy, za’atar-spiced Real California Fresh Mozzarella skewers with a rich Stracciatella-Ganoush spread on grilled lavash. Topped with a fresh, vibrant salad, this dish offers a delightful blend of textures and flavors for a satisfying Mediterranean-inspired experience.

Mozzamasala – Ryan Ososky, Dtown Pizzeria, West Hollywood, Calif.

Description: A rich and creamy Indian-inspired dish, this finalist combines Real California Fresh Bocconcini Mozzarella balls with fresh peas and an aromatic tomato-onion sauce. Seasoned with warming spices like garam masala, vadouvan, and turmeric, this savory dish is simmered with Real California heavy cream for a luxurious, creamy texture and served with naan bread.

Fresh Mozzarella Meatball – Jay Abrams, Full Heart Hospitality, San Francisco, Calif.

Description: A juicy meatball made with ground chicken thigh, stuffed with a creamy Real California Fresh Mozzarella center, and topped with Burrata and shaved “string cheese cracklings” – each meatball is served on a pool of smoked tomato jam for a burst of flavor with every bite.

The Mighty Mozzarella – Jason Triail, The Habit Burger, Orange, Calif.

Description: A gourmet twist on a classic burger, this recipe features a pistachio-crusted Real California Fresh Mozzarella patty, prosciutto, and arugula on an “everything seasoning” bun. Layered with a rich tomato confit, Calabrian chilies aioli, and a touch of balsamic glaze, the burger is finished with a torch-melted slice of Real California Fresh Mozzarella and crispy fried basil for an indulgent, cheesy masterpiece.


Mozzarella Category

CATEGORY WINNER: Quesabirria Egg Rolls – Mike Castaneda, Devour/The Dore, Wellington, Kan.

Description: This dish combines rich and flavorful birria beef with Real California Mozzarella cheese, wrapped in an egg roll wrapper. These crispy, savory bites are served with a side of consommé for dipping and garnished with fresh cilantro and lime for an added burst of flavor.

Muffaletta Mozzarella Rolls – Lauren Katz, The Difference Baker, Ashburn, Va.

Description: A hand-held take on the New Orleans classic, these muffaletta rolls highlight savory mortadella and salami-wrapped Real California Mozzarella, creating a rich, cheesy center surrounded by a mix of finely chopped olives and giardiniera encased in buttery, flaky phyllo dough and baked to golden perfection.

Mozzarella Frico Chips & Dip – Nick Kite, Wine Way Inn, Calistoga, Calif.

Description: A cheesy version of chips and salsa made by stuffing Real California Dry Jack cheese fricos with a flavorful combination of Real California Mozzarella and fire-roasted poblano peppers. This crispy, creamy snack is served with a smoky guajillo chili sauce and garnished with fresh cilantro, radishes, and lime.

Buffalo Mozzarella Wontons – Sierra Stevens, Sodexo at SVU, Buena Vista, Va.

Description: A delicious blend of shredded chicken breast, Real California Mozzarella, and hot sauce wrapped in crispy wonton wrappers and deep-fried to golden perfection, these wontons are complemented by a rich Cajun honey ranch dipping sauce for an irresistible combination of flavors.

Finalist chefs each received $2,000 for their entries. A digital recipe book with detailed recipes of the eight dishes will be available in May 2024.

California is a reliable, consistent source of sustainable dairy products used by chefs throughout the world. As the nation’s largest dairy state, California boasts an impressive lineup of award-winning cheesemakers and dairy processors, that help drive dining innovation nationwide. Information, tools, and tips for foodservice operators is available at

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About Real California Milk/the California Milk Advisory Board
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy farm families who lead the nation in sustainable dairy farming practices. With a vision to nourish the world with the wholesome goodness of Real California Milk, the CMAB’s programs focus on increasing demand for California dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research, and retail and foodservice promotional programs.

The Foodservice Division of the CMAB supports foodservice operators and distributors that use Real California dairy products. The CMAB offers marketing and promotional support for foodservice operators that purchase dairy products with the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with milk from California’s family dairy farms, using some of the most sustainable dairy practices in the nation.

For more information on sourcing cheese from California, contact the foodservice team at 209.883.6455(MILK), or and YouTube.