S.Pellegrino 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition Mystery Basket

By admin
The first part of the competition is over; hats up!
By Sophie Gayot



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.”



While the kitchen of The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone, was in full swing, chef Fabio Viviani from Firenze Osteria (and who loves to be on camera) interviewed the contestants and the judges. The coverage was streamed live for the first time in the event’s history.

  Then came my part: the judging. Over the course of four hours, chef Michel Richard of Citronelle (one of GAYOT’s Top 40 U.S. Restaurants), chef Rick Moonen of rm Seafood (Las Vegas), chef Wade Wiestling of The Oceanaire Seafood Room (12 locations in the US), chef Ralph Pagano of Kitchensynx.com, chef Andrew Ellerby of ONE Restaurant (Toronto, Canada), chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy), Food & Wine magazine’s editor in chief Dana Cowin, Bon Appétit Magazine’s restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton, Toronton National Post’s columnist Bonnie Stern, last’s year winner David Awad and I discovered the plates one by one, as they were presented and explained by the students. The good thing: though the dishes were based on similar ingredients, each of them was very different in creativity, execution, presentation and taste.


See the pictures below for all the details.


You can click on each photo to enlarge. You can click on each photo to enlarge.