For its fifth-annual “Ultimate Cranberry Recipe” Contest, Ocean Spray raised the bar in search of executive chefs and foodservice professionals who highlight the versatility of the cranberry in the most unique and vibrant way. This year, Shonna Ebert, lead cook at Dietert Senior Center in Kerrville, Texas, took home the title “Ultimate Cranberry Recipe” and the $10,000 grand prize for her Kickin’ Chicken Tortilla Soup with Zesty Cranberry Crème Fraîche (pictured below).

Ebert prepared her innovative creation for a panel of judges including Paul King, executive chef of Davio’s, Foxboro, Mass.; Lawrence Parks, executive chef; and Jason Ward, executive chef of Renaissance Boston Hotel & Spa at Patriot Place during the final cooking showdown in late September. The judges announced Ebert as the winner during Ocean Spray’s Fall Harvest Festival in Foxboro.

“For more than 80 years, Ocean Spray has been on the lookout for the most creative and innovative ways to use the cranberry—from sauces and glazes to cocktails and desserts,” said Keith Benoit, Ocean Spray’s director of foodservice and special markets. “All of the finalists’ recipes, including Shonna Ebert’s winning tortilla soup, prove once again that no matter the dish, the cranberry can add that sweet or tangy accent to make any ordinary dish extraordinary.”

The three other finalists included Brent Rhoda of Sysco SEF in West Palm Beach, Fla., for his Deep Fried Craisins®, Michael Sabella of Sysco Foodservices in San Francisco for his Cranberry Puebla Cocktail, and Shawn Bucher of First Timer’s Enterprise, Inc., in Ogden, Utah, for his Holiday Caprese Salad.

This year's winning and finalist recipes can be found at