Almost Famous Chef Competition

Almost Famous Chef Competition


With so many big culinary names out there, is it possible for today’s aspiring chefs to make it to the top? As a way of opening doors for today’s young culinary talent, the 5th S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition provides culinary students from selected institutions around the U.S. a unique opportunity to compete for the honor of being judged by famous chefs and the media on their culinary skills and potential star quality.


Pacific South regional winner Pidor Kem

Hosted by Sara Moulton, the regional winners will represent their culinary school and region at the national competition, taking place October 27-30 in Napa Valley. Contestants are judged on a Harvest Mystery Basket contest, in which contestants have two hours to prepare a dish created from previously unknown ingredients; a signature dish contest, offering contestants an opportunity to showcase regional flavors and traditions; and a people’s choice tasting gala, in which media and guests are invited to enjoy each signature dish and vote on their favorite entrĂ©e. The national competition winner will be awarded the title of 2006 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef and will receive a $10,000 cash prize, along with a one-year employment opportunity to work with Victor Scargle with Julia’s Kitchen at Copia.

The following are the winners of the regional competitions, along with their signature dishes.


Roasted Wild Nantucket Striped Bass, Poached Manila Clams and Shrimp

Thomas Lonardo, of Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
Roasted Wild Nantucket Striped Bass, Poached Manila Clams and Shrimp served with toasted orzo, fennel and bell pepper.

South Central:
Mohammed Assi of the Art Institute of Dallas;
Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chops served with herbed couscous and stuffed squash blossoms drizzled with a pomegranate demi glace.

New England:
Rebecca M. Angoff New England Culinary Institute;
Lobster with Corn and Drawn Butter served with fennel and arugula.

North Central:
Ranbir Batra of Kendall College;
Tandoori & Tamarind Lamb Duo which incorporated an Australian Lamb rack coated with a Tandoori paste along with a lamb sweetbread glazed with Tamarind on a bed of crimson lentils, cauliflower, almond purée and Brussel sprouts.

Pacific North:


 Shiso Crusted Lamb Chop

Sakiko Tani of California Culinary Academy;
Shiso Crusted Lamb Chop with truffle oil infused with fresh yellow corn polenta’ incorporating lamb staffed cipollini onion with shaved summer squashes, cranberry sauce, gastrique and shiso oil.

North East:
Paul Yeck of The French Culinary Institute;
Potato Crusted Wild Striped Bass Filet incorporating a filet of Wild Striped Bass served over Lacinato with Chorizo and a Saffron mussel foam.

Pacific South:
Pidor Kem of California School of Culinary Arts;
Halibut Wrapped in Prosciutto served on a Mascarpone Polenta with sautéed Wild Mushrooms in a Saffron Butter Sauce.

South East:
Daniel Black of Florida Culinary Institute;
Caramelized Banana Grouper served with warm avocado potato salad.



Veal Tenderloin with Prosciutto wrapped in Feuilles de Bric

Mountain Regional:
Louis Fiorentino Jr. of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas;
Veal Tenderloin with Prosciutto wrapped in Feuilles de Bric served with Sicilian Pistachio Orzo Pasta and Ragu of Summer Squash glazed with Sage Beurre Blanc.




Check back to find out which regional winner takes the national title.

Which dish will take the prize? Email us!

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Published on October 25, 2006