El Pollo Loco Names Top Cook at 16th Annual Grilling Challenge

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Bringing a sizzling finish to months of regional competitions, El Pollo Loco awarded Demetrio Jurado from Los Angeles, CA, the esteemed title of Top Grill Master at its 16th Annual Grill Master Challenge held June 16, 2010 in Los Angeles.

The event paid tribute to the grilling expertise that put El Pollo Loco on the map and brought together the top six finalists representing more than 1,200 cooks across the 400 plus unit chain. Jurado and the remaining five finalists fired up the grills in hopes of winning the coveted title of Top Grill Master for El Pollo Loco, along with cash and prizes. More than $10,000 in cash was awarded to the top cooks and the support teams that helped place them in the finals.

Jurado wowed the judges with his perfect pollo and expertly grilled Carne Asada-style Sirloin steak. With 20 years of grilling experience at El Pollo Loco, Jurado is no stranger to the Grill Master event. He competed in two previous challenges, placing fourth in his first competition and second in his second competition. Jurado, who works at a franchised El Pollo Loco location in Los Angeles owned by Peg-Lion, LLC, was awarded a cash prize of $2,500, a trophy, a competition jacket, a personalized grilling fork and the prestige of being named El Pollo Loco’s 2010 Grand Grill Master.

Second place went to Ramon Cano of Pomona, CA and third place went to Ricardo Montez of North Las Vegas, NV. Runners-up included Eduardo Hernandez of Sparks, NV; Pedro Nolasco of Sunland, CA and Saul Sifuentes of Rialto, CA.

“We are extraordinarily proud of the remarkable skill demonstrated by this year’s finalists,” said Steve Carley, president and CEO of El Pollo Loco, Inc. “Grilling perfect chicken and Carne Asada style Sirloin steak is truly an art that has fueled El Pollo Loco’s growth and sets us apart from other quick-serve concepts. The Grill Master Challenge gives us the opportunity to honor the best of the best at El Pollo Loco – the talented cooks like Demetrio who delight our guests each and every day with expertly prepared, delicious citrus-marinated, flame-grilled chicken and Carne Asada style steak they won’t find anywhere else.”

A panel of grilling connoisseurs from across the company, along with the stars of Bravo’s Flipping Out, Jeff Lewis and Jenni Pulos, judged the final six on their technique in several areas, including preparing, cooking, cutting and presenting the chicken and steak to the judges. Appearance and flavor were evaluated using El Pollo Loco’s standards of excellence.

El Pollo Loco’s Grill Master Challenge is an annual event that celebrates the company’s flame-grilling expertise, a legacy that began 35 years ago in the small town of Guasave on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The first American El Pollo Loco opened on Alvarado Street in Los Angeles, CA in 1980, marking 2010 as El Pollo Loco’s 30th anniversary in the US.

Today, El Pollo Loco operates more than 400 restaurants (a combination of company and franchise-owned locations) in 13 states– California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut and New Jersey. For more information about El Pollo Loco, visit the company’s website at www.elpolloloco.com.

Posted 8/5/10.