S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition was founded in 2002 as a mentoring program that connects top culinary students with established chefs and influential media. Since then, this program has helped to launch culinary careers and refined the skills of a new generation of chefs.
Each year S.Pellegrino hosts leading culinary schools across the U.S. and Canada in a fast-paced highly-intense cooking competition that spotlights the best and the brightest. The program consists of 10 regional competitions (nine U.S .and one Canada) where students compete before the influential media and renowned chefs throughout January and February, leading to the final competition in March in Napa Valley, California. During the finals competition, regional winners showcase their culinary skills for the chance to win more than $20,000 and a one-year paid apprenticeship with a celebrity chef.
The program that keeps on growing
Since 2002, 80 different culinary schools have been involved in the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.
- The first two years of the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition featured 6 top culinary students, expanding to 55 students in 2012.
- In 2010, the program expanded internationally to include 45 schools from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Italy and a special panel of 7 renowned chefs.
- In 2011, efforts focused on broadening partnerships with top U.S. culinary schools, resulting in including 9 Art Institute schools, 4 Johnson & Wales schools and 7 Le Cordon Bleu schools. The 2011 regionals had 10 competitions and 77 students across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
- In 2012, 55 students competed from 49 different schools across the 10 regional competitions. Chef judges participated throughout, including 40 regional chef judges and 8 final chef judges.
- In 2013, 75 students will compete from 75 culinary schools across North America.
Last night at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Miami five students from across our region competed in the South Regional Competition.
Chef judges were, Paula DaSilva of 1500-Degrees, Ralph Pagano of Alba at Sole on the Ocean and Peter Schintler of Marmalade. Media judges were, Zippy Sandler of Champagne Living, Linda Gassenheimer of WLRN, Christiana Lilly of Where Magazine and myself. Our scores combined 50% of the results with the remaining 50% tally from the kitchen judges. The South Regional Competition winner is Ryan Trinkofsky from Lincoln Culinary Institute Palm Beach. Ryan will head to Napa in three weeks for the National S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.
Ryan’s winning dish was “Flavors of India” Tandoori stuffed Frenched chicken leg quarter, tomato curry sauce roasted colored cauliflower and coconut rice pilaf with curry nut crumble; accompanies by mango micro green salad, mango lassi and garnished with poori bread. Take a good look at this dish, looks like Ryan’s rising star to me.
click here to view more photos from last night’s competition