by Sophie Gayot
The winners of the 11th S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition, held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., have just been announced.
During two challenges, The Mystery Basket yesterday, and The Signature Dish today, ten competitors had to prove to the judges that they can cook. The chef judges were Rick Moonen, Tony Mantuano, Jean Joho (2012 GAYOT.com Best Restaurateur in the US), Michel Richard, Susur Lee, and Mark McEwan; the media judges Dana Cowin, Mitchell Davis, Jacob Richler, Betsy Andrews, and me.
– The Overall Winner
Kristen Thibeault of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Boston received a prize of $10,000 and a paid apprenticeship with one of the participating chef judges at the restaurant of his/her choice;
– The Mystery Basket Winner
Jean-Christophe Comtois of Ecole Hôtelière de la Capitale, Canada, won $3,000. His dish was fresh cod, seafood and citrus;
– The Signature Dish Winner
Acenette Gonzalez of The Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio went home with $3,000. Her signature dish was mole pipian with pork belly;
– The People’s Choice Winner
Kristen Thibeault of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Boston received her second prize and an additional $3,000, as the guests who attended The Signature Dish Competition chose her dish. She cooked porcini crusted vegan “sweetbreads”;
– The Acqua Panna Fan Favorite Winner
Online viewers followed the contest. Jean-Christophe Comtois of Ecole Hôtelière de la Capitale, Canada, got the most “Likes” on Facebook and tweets; he received $3,000.
You can click on each photo to enlarge. All photos by Sophie Gayot.