Jun 14, 2017 • By

A salad fusion wins Neighborhood to Nation contest

Jennifer Shearer strives for fusion in the food she makes at PRESS Bistro in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Her unique spin on panzanella, an Italian bread salad, is a perfect example.

And it just earned her the Grand Prize in the 2017 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest from General Mills Foodservice.

Shearer’s “Strawberry Cornbread Panzanella” beat out Michael Minden’s “Butterfinger Cream Cheese Brownie Pie” and Carrie Hudson’s “Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Turnover.”


Jennifer Shearer, of PRESS Bistro in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, reacts as she learns she’s the Grand Prize winner in the 2017 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest from General Mills Foodservice.

“This is amazing, I’m so happy!” Shearer told us, moments after celebrity chef Amanda Freitag announced her name at our headquarters this afternoon. “I really like panzanella salad so I just decided to use a different type of crouton, other than a French bread, and give it a little sweeter aspect with the strawberries, the basil, the mint and the sweet balsamic reduction. I think everything just went good together.”

Freitag, and the judges, thought so, too.

“I really loved Jennifer’s recipe,” says Freitag. “I like the creativity, that was the most outstanding thing for me. The freshness, the basil, the mint, the cucumbers, and I just love the versatility of it. You could put a piece of chicken or pork on top of it or you could eat it as is. And the way she integrated the General Mills cornbread was really cool.”

Shearer uses Gold Medal Honey Cornbread Mix in her recipe.


Jennifer Shearer’s “Strawberry Cornbread Panzanella”

Shearer talks about her recipe in this video clip.


Minden, of Michael V’s Restaurant & Bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma, won first place and $15,000. Second place and $10,000 went to Hudson, of West Egg Café in Atlanta, Georgia.

In addition to her $40,000 prize, Shearer received $10,000 to donate to a charity. She told us she’ll give it to Discover Downtown Johnstown, which “plays a big part in revitalizing our city and brings a lot of wonderful things to downtown,” she says.

Shearer owns PRESS Bistro with her husband, Jeremy. They opened it in 2013. In July, they’ll be opening a microbrewery nearby.

Freitag, of Food Network’s “Chopped” and “American Diner Revival,” helped us host the three Neighborhood to Nation finalists for a full day of activities, which included a panel discussion, an event with our Foodservice culinary team and a chance for the winners to share samples of their recipes with employees at lunch.


Michael Minden, of Michael V’s Restaurant & Bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma, serves his “Butterfinger Cream Cheese Brownie Pie” to employees at General Mills.

The Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest celebrates independent family or neighborhood restaurants from around the U.S. and their one-of-a-kind dishes that reflect their local flavor.

Foodservice operators, chefs and line cooks submitted their favorite original breakfast, entrée or dessert recipes using at least one ingredient from General Mills’ list of eligible products.


Jennifer Shearer, Amanda Freitag, Michael Minden and Carrie Hudson.

Freitag loves the spirit of the contest.

“The creativity of what these people do every day and the love and passion they have for it needs to be recognized,” Freitag says. “For me, it’s also a joy to be with people in the industry who I might not normally meet, and might not get to their restaurants and try their products. We need to give a lot of attention to family-owned restaurants and small businesses because they’re a dying breed and they’re what America is about.”

Hear Freitag talk about Shearer, and the Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest, in this audio clip.

As part of her win, Shearer will host Freitag on a visit to PRESS Bistro.

But, she jokes, first things first.

“I need to find another contest to enter!” Shearer says.

For more information on Neighborhood to Nation, and the three finalists, visit

You can learn more about General Mills Convenience & Foodservice at

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