Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Meet Samoa Soiree Competitor: Chef Bob Hirasawa

Flavorful. Attractive. Creative. That’s how Chef Bob Hirasawa, executive chef of Farm Fresh Supermarkets, describes his cooking. With more than 44 years of culinary experience, he currently researches and develops recipes, supervises retail chefs and supports the catering operations for all 43 Farm Fresh locations.

Chef Bob and GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller
Chef Bob developed a love for creative cooking and unique flavor combinations at a young age. He grew up watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr on television and was fascinated by their skills and creativity. He was also frequently tasting new flavors and new foods at home.

“I was influenced by my mother’s interest in cooking different ethnic foods and her passion to learn more about them, trying the dishes on our family,” Chef Bob said.

His own culinary career started in the early 1970s when he took a job as a broiler cook in a Japanese restaurant. Over the years, he has worked in restaurants, hotels, country clubs and supermarkets around the country. Although he received formal culinary training at the City College of San Francisco, Chef Bob says that most of his skills have come from working with talented chefs throughout his career.

2015 Samoa Soiree Best Savory Dish
With so much experience, Chef Bob will putting his own creativity to the test as he enters a culinary challenge like no other this March—Samoa Soiree. Now in its eighth year, Samoa Soiree, which is hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, challenges local chefs to create dishes—sweet or savory—using Girl Scout Cookies as a key ingredient. Last year was Chef Bob’s first time at Samoa Soiree and he took home the prize for best savory dish for his golden lamb chops with Samoas mashed sweet potatoes. This year, he’ll be back to defend his title.

Chef Bob is no stranger to culinary competitions. He has been a part of numerous events across the region since joining the Farm Fresh team in 2007. He enjoys the friendly competition and the chance to meet and network with fellow chefs in the area. But, for Chef Bob, Samoa Soiree is about more than the food and the competition. It’s also about supporting the Girl Scouts. Both of his daughters spent years in the organization, making their way from Brownie to Cadette levels. His wife was also a Girl Scout Brownie leader for some time.

“Girl Scouts was a positive influence in my daughters’ lives,” Chef Bob said. “It helped them with their goal setting and self-confidence. Girl Scouts directs girls to wholesome, positive values.”

As to what Chef Bob will be cooking up for Samoa Soiree, that’s a secret until the big night. But, we do know his approach.

“I generally take the concept of a dish I like, and I will incorporate as many cookies into the ingredients as I can,” Chef Bob explained. “Then, I actually make the dish and see if it works.”

Guests can sample Chef Bob’s recipe, along with food from 10 other chefs, at the 8th annual Samoa Soiree on Saturday, March 5 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk. The evening will include great food, live music by the 504 Supreme swing band and a live auction. Tickets are $60 each until February 19, and then the price increases to $75 each. Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Proceeds from the event will support the Opportunity Fund, which provides financial assistance to girls whose families need help with Girl Scout membership, summer camp and program fees.

The event is being generously sponsored by Coastal Virginia Magazine, Farm Fresh Supermarkets, Greenbrier Dodge, Kaufman and Canoles, Little Brownie Bakers, The Miles Agency, The New 101.3, PRA Group, Tidewater Women Magazine, TowneBank, UBS, VEER Magazine, WVEC-TV 13 and Yelp.