Right now, at this very moment, a national cooking competition is taking place across the country – The Sears Chef Challenge. The competition consists of a total of 24 chefs in four cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles & Washington DC. At this point in the competition, 3 specially chosen Chefs from the LA area are competing against one another, hoping to earn money for their chosen food bank or food related charity, & hoping to make it to the next round where they will go up against the winning chef from New York, Washington DC & Chicago.

Orange County’s very own chef, caterer, food blogger, cooking instructor & business owner, Chef Sally Cameron is proud to be representing the OC in this incredible competition. & Lucky for all of us, Chef Sally Cameron has agreed to tell us a little bit more about the competition &  share with us her recipe for Grilled Jalapeno-Mint Shrimp – sounds like the perfect thing to “wow!’ them at your next summer BBQ.

What could be easier to prepare and more fun for summer than shrimp! Shrimp are:

  • Endlessly versatile – they can be prepared by many different cooking methods from grilled to broiled, pan roasted to sauteed, steamed, boiled, baked, fried and poached. Shrimp can be used as appetizers or a main course, in soups, stews, salads, as fajitas, in risotto, tossed with pasta, rolled into rice paper wrappers, and of course skewered for brochettes.
  • Fast and easy to cook – Most shrimp take just a few minutes to cook and they turn pink they are done. What could be easier!
  • Available year round and in many sizes – as most shrimp arrive frozen they are available year round. Even when you see them thawed and ready to go at the market, chances are they came in frozen and the store thawed them for you. Shrimp are sold by the count and come in many sizes from tiny bay shrimp to extra colossal shrimp weighing in at 2-3 ounces each.

I recently created this recipe as part of the Sears Chef Challenge. It’s a contest with a unique twist — to find the nation’s next up and coming chef while raising money for the nation’s food banks. My designated charity is the Saddleback Church Food Pantry. This food pantry helped over 450 families, almost 1700 people, in May!

As part of the Sears Chef Challenge, chefs were given three ingredients and asked to create a new and unique recipe. The three ingredients were shrimp, jalapenos and hominy. I’ve included the shrimp recipe for readers of Just Spotted. If you’d like the side dish recipe for the colorful and tasty Edamame and Hominy Succotash, please visit my blog HERE. For complete details on the Sears Chef Challenge please visit HERE.

This vinaigrette had bright citrus flavors, jalapeno chile, fresh mint, a touch of honey for sweetness and a little Dijon mustard to help it bring it together. After marinating the shrimp just 30 minutes then grilling them, the shrimp were delicious to taste and a beautiful golden-pink color. I used a grill pan but you could also use your outdoor barbecue. The vinaigrette even works as a finishing sauce for the dish.

Please enjoy this recipes, from my kitchen to yours. The flavors are fresh and bright. It’s easy to prepare and wonderful going into summer. The shrimp work warm as a main dish or chilled as an appetizer. Use the jalapeno-mint vinaigrette as the dipping sauce! These shrimp make a great picnic dish packed right and kept chilled, and try the vinaigrette on salad greens, grilled or roast vegetable, even over potatoes as in a potato salad.

Grilled Jalapeno-Mint Shrimp, Serves:  4
Use large shrimp for this recipe, approximately 12-16 pieces per pound. The vinaigrette recipe make a generous amount so you can discard the shrimp marinade and have fresh vinaigrette to use as the sauce at serving time.

1 ½ pounds large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tail section intact
¾ cup jalapeno-mint vinaigrette (see recipe)
3 slices bacon
1 large shallot, sliced thin crosswise, rings separated
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
1 cup (6 ounces) shelled edamame (soy beans), fresh or frozen, thawed
1½ cups (8 ounces) canned hominy, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, plus extra for optional garnish
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives or green onion
Fresh ground black pepper*, to taste
½ cup jalapeno-mint vinaigrette (see recipe)
Optional Garnish
1 medium jalapeno thinly sliced crosswise into rings
1 lime, cut into quarters


  1. Prepare the jalapeno-mint vinaigrette
  2. Place shrimp in a ziploc bag and add 3/4 cup of the marinade. Turn shrimp to coat and allow to stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. While shrimp marinate, start the succotash.
  3. In a medium fry pan over medium heat cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Crumble or chop bacon and set aside. Drain bacon fat from pan leaving 1 tablespoon to cook shallots.
  4. Add shallot to pan and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add red bell pepper and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add edamame and hominy and heat through, about 5-7 minutes, stirring all ingredients to heat thoroughly.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Add herbs and crumbled bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Heat a grill pan* over medium heat.  Remove shrimp from bag and discard marinade. Place shrimp in hot grill pan. Cook just until one side of shrimp are pink with grilled edges. Turn shrimp over and cook 1 minute more until just pink on second side. Remove from heat and keep warm.
  7. To serve, mound succotash in center of the plate, place shrimp on top and drizzle reserved vinaigrette over top and around edges of the plate.  Serve extra vinaigrette as a sauce on the side.
  8. For garnish sprinkle extra chopped cilantro and a few thinly sliced jalapeno pieces around the edge. Add a lime quarter to each plate.

*Note – If you don’t have a grill pan you can cook the shrimp on an outdoor grill, under the broiler, or in a fry pan over medium heat.  If you enjoy smoky flavors, try smoked black pepper. It adds wonderful flavor to this dish. It’s available from the Chefs Warehouse.

Jalapeno-Mint Vinaigrette, Yield: about 2 cups
This brightly flavored and versatile vinaigrette is a true multi-tasker in the kitchen. Great on fresh salad greens, it also works well as a marinade or a sauce. Try it with fish, shellfish and chicken or toss it with roasted or grilled vegetables for additional flavor.  The heat level in this recipe is mild. If you like things spicy, add more jalapeno to your taste preference or use chiles with a higher heat rating.

4 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice, about 1 large orange
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice, about 2-3 limes
4 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1 large pinch kosher or sea salt, plus more to season at end
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced fine
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium bowl mix together orange juice, lime juice, shallots and salt. Allow to stand for 10 minutes for shallots to soften.
  2. Stir in mustard, honey, mint, garlic and jalapeno.
  3. Add the olive oil to the bowl in a slow stream whisking to blend until emulsified.
  4. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper as desired

Vinaigrette can be made ahead and refrigerated. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature. Will keep for two days in the refrigerator.


Thanks Chef Sally Cameron! The grilled shrimp sounds oh so yummy, I can’t wait to whip up a batch!

As I mentioned previously, Chef Sally Cameron is competing at this very moment to raise money for her chosen charity the Saddleback Church Food Pantry, & to earn her place in the next round of the The Sears Chef Challenge. YOU can help Chef Sally Cameron out… simply vote for her HERE (before Thursday, July 10th) & help us send a local Orange County-ian on to the next round of The Sears Chef Challenge. Seriously, voting takes all of a minute & you will be helping the Saddleback Church Food Pantry get a much needed boost in monetary donations & appliances!

xoxo, K
image via Chef Sally Cameron