Winners Announced in the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Foodservice Recipe Contest

Results are in for the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Professional Chefs’ Recipe Contest, featuring Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella or Crave Brothers Mascarpone. Cheese-loving foodservice professionals submitted their favorite original recipes—side dishes, entrées or desserts. Winning recipes were selected for their innovation, creativity and flavor.


Executive Chef Rhys Lewis of Woodstock Inn in Vermont took First Place honors and was awarded the $2,500 top prize for his Crave Brothers Crispy Mozzarella and Summer Tomato Salad with Basil Pesto, Herb Mascarpone and Cider Balsamic Reduction.  His recipe brings together the culinary influences of Wisconsin, Vermont and Southern Regional cooking. In developing his salad idea, Chef Lewis starting thinking about the Southern-inspired classic, Fried Green Tomatoes. He thought Fresh Mozzarella and sweet cream Mascarpone would add great flavor and texture to the salad. While Fresh Mozzarella, garden-fresh tomatoes and basil have shared the culinary stage for generations, the addition of crispy Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella offers a contrast of temperature and texture that takes the ingredient trio to the next level.  The velvety texture of Crave Brothers Mascarpone balances the bright acidity of the tomatoes.

To make Crave Brothers Crispy Fresh Mozzarella, Chef Lewis coats cherry-sized Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine in seasoned flour, and then dips the cheese in beaten egg before rolling it in breadcrumbs. The breaded Fresh Mozzarella is chilled until needed. Just before serving, the Fresh Mozzarella is quickly fried—30 seconds at 350°F. Herb Mascarpone is combined with stemmed and chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, and seasoned with kosher salt and pepper. For the salad, herbed Crave Brothers Mascarpone is spread in the center of serving plates, and then Crave Brothers Crispy Mozzarella is arranged atop the Mascarpone. Halved heirloom cherry tomatoes and garden fresh lettuces are added, and the plate is then dotted with basil pesto and cider balsamic reduction made with fresh apple cider, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. The salad is a fresh, bright and seasonal combination.

Crave Brothers award-winning Fresh Mozzarella is an ideal ingredient for creative cooking because it’s available in a variety of forms for foodservice, including one-pound balls and logs, 8-ounce balls, and containers of perline (pearl size), ciliegine (cherry size), bocconcini (ball size), ovoline (egg size), and ciliegine marinated in an olive oil/canola oil blend with herbs and spices. In 2017, Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics swept the Fresh Mozzarella category at the U.S. Cheese Championships, placing First, Second and Third.  Other recent Fresh Mozzarella awards include First and Second Place Awards at the 2017 World Dairy Product Awards, and First and Second Place Awards at the 2017 American Cheese Society Competition. Marinated Fresh Mozzarella placed First at the 2018 World Cheese Championships.

Kristina Vanni of New York City earned the Second Place Award and received $2,000 for her cross-cultural creation —Italian-Style Shakshouka with Fresh Mozzarella and Marinated Crostini. Kristina Vanni is a food writer, cookbook author, recipe developer and food photographer. She’s a fan of smoked paprika and likes exploring culture and different flavors. Her recipe gives an Italian twist to the North African dish of shakshouka, made with eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers and onions spiced with cumin. Kristina Vanni’s flavorful recipe crosses over to the other side of the Mediterranean, featuring poached eggs with Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella—featuring Marinated Ciliegine (cherry-size balls)—melted into the warm tomato sauce. Crave Brothers Marinated Fresh Mozzarella does double duty in her recipe: the cheese contributes fresh flavor and texture to the dish, while the herbed marinade is brushed onto bread. Italian-Style Shakshouka is served with toasted crostini brushed with the Fresh Mozzarella marinade before baking. Crave Brothers Marinated Ciliegine is marinated in an olive oil/canola oil blend with a custom spice mix, and is available in foodservice and retail containers.


Tying for Third Place honors are Chef Scott Stroud of Des Moines, IA, and Executive Chef James Campbell of Lakes 23 in Freemont, MI. Each chef wins a Crave Brothers cooler tote filled with a selection of award-winning Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese and a cutting board. Both chefs’ recipes feature Crave Brothers Mascarpone that is made from fresh sweet cream, adding rich flavor and texture.

Third Place winner Chef Scott Stroud works for College Chefs that provides chefs to sororities and fraternities across the country. He’s at the Delta Gamma sorority at Drake University. Chef Stroud says his Dessert Nachos play off one of his favorite dairy products that he’s been using in the kitchen for more than 18 years—Mascarpone. His dessert is inspired by the seasons, featuring fresh summer fruit, light and crispy tortilla chips tossed in cinnamon, and a dip that features Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Mascarpone. The dip, flavored with honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon zest, brings all the dessert elements together. While many desserts are time-consuming and heavy with cream and butter, Chef Stroud says his recipe is easy to make and offers the subtle sweetness of Mascarpone dip and fresh fruit such as berries. The crunchy nacho chips are made from flour tortillas cut into triangles, then flavored with butter, cinnamon and sugar before baking. The dessert features a hint of fresh mint added to the fruit, and a touch of chocolate syrup drizzled over the plate.

Executive Chef James Campbell’s recipe for Lemon Basil Mascarpone Custard with Lemon Shortbread Cookies is a frozen-custard-and-cookies spin on classic strawberry shortcake that offers a taste of summer. Chef Campbell has been inspired by chefs he’s worked with, especially Chef Kevin Humphreys of Jackson Hole, WY, who taught him to run the kitchen with a teaching mentality. Chef Campbell’s dessert pairs a rich Lemon Basil Mascarpone Custard —made with Crave Brothers Mascarpone—with shortbread cookies made with sweet cream butter and Crave Brothers Mascarpone. The cookies are flavored with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. The dessert is served with fresh berries, and garnished with fresh basil.

Crave Brothers Mascarpone has won more than 27 prestigious awards since its introduction, and adds richness to dessert and savory recipes alike. Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, including Mascarpone, is made with milk from the Crave family’s own dairy herd. Crave Brothers Cheese is sustainably produced in a farmstead cheese-making facility that uses 100 percent green power, and practices water conservation and recycling.

Visit the website at for the winning recipes. You’ll also find product information about Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese varieties, and serving suggestions.