Nine young American student chefs and one Canadian squared off this weekend at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., during the 9th edition of the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.
As I was judging the two challenges, along with twelve other judges, I am happy to announce the five winners, presented by Gail Simmons and Ralph Pagano:
– The Overall Winner Marco Bahena of Kendall College, in Chicago, received a prize of $10,000 and a paid apprenticeship with one of the participating chef judge’s restaurant of his choice;
Many of S.Pellegrino’s representatives, including President & CEO Stefano Agostini, made the trip to Napa Valley for the finals, not only to congratulate the winners but also to see how to extend to competition worldwide.
Part one of the S.Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef® Competition, held for the eighth time this year, is The Mystery Basket competition. The rules are very strict (there is a full page of them), but the basics are that the eleven contestants have 2 hours to create a dish with the featured ingredients and prepare 10 identical plates to be served to the judges. This year’s mystery ingredients were organic chicken, mushrooms and eggs. The contestants—all chefs in training— had a long list of other produce they were allowed to use, including flavors from the “Asian pantry,” the “Mediterranean pantry” and the “Latin pantry.”