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Jose's hosts inaugural flauta-eating contest

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Calling all San Diegans! Jose's of La Jolla has announced it will host the first-ever sanctioned World Flauta-Eating Contest. Billed as the "Jose's World Flauta Eating Championship," this event is expected to draw the world's top competitive eaters in the final scheduled for Dec 6.

Sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), the Jose's World Flauta Eating Championship will be the first time the IFOCE has crowned a Flauta-eating champion of the world.

The championship final features Jose's famous "Chicken Flauta." Looking a lot like a rolled taco, the flauta is a 1.5-ounce delight of shredded chicken wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep fried. This flauta has been one of the restaurant's signature items since the early 1970s and organizers over the event anticipate the top athletes will consume more than 50 flautas in the allotted time period.

In preparation for the championship final, qualifying events are currently being held and competitor spots are filling up. The winners of each of the six qualifying events will earn the chance to compete against the pros at the final championship table. The 1st place winner walks away with $2,000 and $1,000 for second and $500 for third place.

For participation and sign-up details, visit joses.com.

More than 8,000 wine and food enthusiasts are expected to arrive in San Diego from all over the country for the sixth annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, held Nov. 18-22. The five-day festival features over 170 wineries, 70 restaurants, gourmet food companies, wine tasting seminars, celebrity artists, cooking classes taught by award-winning chefs and more.

Food and wine experts participating in the festival include James Beard Foundation Award winner for "Best American Chef, Southwest," chef Alex Stratta of ALEX at the Wynn Las Vegas; Cooking Light magazine's executive chef Billy Strynowski; Peter Mondavi Jr. of Charles Krug Winery, James Beard Foundation Award winner for "Best Chef"; chef Paul Bartolotta of Bartolotta at the Wynn Las Vegas; celebrity television star Sam Zien of "Sam the Cooking Guy"; among many others.

A complete schedule and lineup of all events for the festival is available at worldofwineevents.com.

Delicias Restaurant, located in Rancho Santa Fe, recently welcomed Rick Hyra as its new sous chef.

A 2003 graduate of the Culinary Institute of American, Hyra hails most recently as one of Gordon Ramsey's sous chefs at The London in West Hollywood. Prior, he spent two and a half years at Santa Monica's La Cachette under French chef Jean Francois Meteigner. Five years in Boston gave him experience with executive chef Erin Brennan at Excelsior and Harvest.

Working in close proximity to Chino Farms has given Hyra the opportunity to create fresh, seasonal dishes using an abundant variety of vegetables and fruits. Rancho Santa Fe's coastal location also affords him excellent seafood options. "I like the straightforward approach of executive chef Michael Knowles' farm-to-table concept, and I'm thrilled to be working alongside him," says Hyra.

Last week, Arturo Kassel and Ryan Johnston, the duo behind La Jolla's Whisknladle and their newest venture Prepkitchen, packed their bags to embark on a gastronomic journey through Italy -- in the name of research. This trip is one of the first steps they are taking to prepare and plan for their third concept -- an Italian restaurant.

While Arturo and Ryan are fluent and well-versed in the flavor profiles of Mediterranean cuisine, they want to expand their expertise and feel the essence, culture and soul behind Italian food and bring that back to San Diego. They are staying, touring and dining with cheese makers, olive oil producers, fisherman and cattle ranchers, in the pursuit of pure, traditional Italian cooking.

Stay tuned!

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