Friday, January 9, 2009

Top culinary students vie for $20,000 in S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition

The S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition kicks off its 7th year this January, as nearly 80 student chefs from across the United States and Canada, representing approximately 40 of the best culinary schools, compete in 10 regional contests before food media, distinguished guests and renowned chefs. In this premier culinary event, celebrity chefs act as both mentors and judges, while students compete for up to $20,000, a paid apprenticeship and the chance to win the title of S.Pellegrino 2009 Almost Famous Chef.

The 10 regional winners will be flown to the finals event, which taking place March 6–9, 2009, at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif. The finalists will compete in three categories: the Mystery Basket, Signature Dish and People's Choice. During the three-day competition, a panel of judges will critique competitors on every meticulous detail—from taste, texture and aroma of the dish to presentation, kitchen skills and the ability to perform under pressure.

The S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition is the first of its kind to allow student chefs to experience their first heated culinary competition, as well as the rare opportunity to work alongside some of the biggest names in the culinary world. Judges include some of the most prestigious chefs and esteemed members of the media. Past judges have included celebrity chefs Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Greg Cole of Celadon and Cole's Chop House, Food Network star Sara Moulton and Harold Dieterle, winner of Bravo's Top Chef Season 1 and chef/owner of Perilla.

The competition is a career opportunity of a lifetime—just ask Kristianne Pak, the 2008 Almost Famous Chef. "I came into the competition knowing that I was competing against the best up-and-coming young chefs," she says. "This competition opened up so many doors for me, and I am very thankful to S.Pellegrino for this experience!"