Some of the most innovative, inspiring dishes are showing up in family restaurants and neighborhood diners across the country. Think about it: beyond serving up the familiar favorites we know and love, these independent restaurants are known for their creativity and their ability to turn out signature menu items their customers crave and can’t find anywhere else.
Each year, General Mills Foodservice celebrates independent restaurants, showcasing their one-of-a-kind menu items and those special dishes that are often unique to their region. This is the first in a three-part series to share the stories of the 2017 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest Winners—the chefs behind the recipes, their restaurant operations and what inspires their creativity.
PRESS Bistro (Johnstown, Penn.)
Jennifer Shearer is the master behind the menu at PRESS Bistro, a restaurant she opened with her husband Jeremy in 2013. Featuring modern American fusion fare, it quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in Johnstown, Penn., and the couple’s commitment to bringing an inspiring dining experience to the area has helped revitalize the city’s central business district.
Whether diners want a mid-day coffee, a quick lunch or a more leisurely dinner complete with a craft beer or cocktail and live jazz or blues music on the weekends, PRESS Bitro is the place to go. Jennifer oversees PRESS Bistro’s menu, which includes everything from Korean tacos and chicken and waffles to Thai enchiladas and ramen bowls as well as traditional bistro fare.
Jennifer’s ability to successfully meld different flavors and ethnic cuisines led to her twist on the traditional Italian bread salad that helped her capture the Grand Prize in the Neighborhood to Nation contest last year. Her Strawberry Cornbread Panzanella starts with sweet, twice-baked croutons made from Gold Medal™ Honey Cornbread Mix and adds strawberries, bacon bits, feta cheese, candied pecans, a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a garnish of basil and mint for a savory touch.
“I think the cornbread adds a sweetness that pairs well with the strawberries. There are several other savory items in the salad, so it is a nice balance,” said Jennifer. “The texture is also appealing in salad—it’s not the traditional bread crouton; it’s softer with a crumbly texture.”
For her award-winning recipe, Jennifer received a $40,000 cash prize plus another $10,000 to share with her community. This past August, she presented a check to The Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership, an area non-profit working to make the downtown area a more inviting place to welcome customers, businesses, residents and investors.
“There has been a positive response from the community. They are excited that we put little Johnstown on the map,” said Jennifer, who appeared in several local news stories over the past summer. “However, I am probably most grateful to be able to share a donation with an organization that is making such a positive impact in the Johnstown community.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Jennifer has remained busy since winning the 2017 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest. She and her husband Jeremy recently launched a meal delivery service and are also in the process of opening a brewery in Johnstown—further proof that independent restaurant operators are always using their creativity and resourcefulness to find new ways to satisfy their local customers.
For more information on the Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest, including details on how to enter this year’s contest as well as past winners and their award-winning recipes, please visit NeighborhoodtoNation.com.
This post is sponsored by General Mills