Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marco Bahena of Kendall College named winner of 9th annual S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition

On March 13th, Marco Bahena, of Kendall College, was named the winner of the 9TH annual S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition at the finals event held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif. A celebrity panel of judges awarded the top prize to Marco for his signature dish.
Marco Bahena with his winning dish

The event was hosted by Gail Simmons, Food & Wine special projects director and Bravo's “Top Chef” judge and host, and Ralph Pagano, the executive chef at STK Miami, finalist from “Hell’s Kitchen,” season one, and host of the internationally broadcast travel show, “Pressure Cook.”

Judging the three days of competition were a panel of celebrity chefs and media: chefs Michel Richard of Citronelle, Rick Moonen of rm Seafood, Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Jean Joho of Everest, Gary Danko of Gary Danko Restaurant, Brooke McDougall of ByMark Restaurant and Napa’s own, Bob Hurley. The chefs were joined by an elite group of media: Dana Cowin of Food & Wine magazine, Sophie Gayot of, Mitchell Davis of The James Beard Foundation and Bonnie Stern of The National Post. 
Marco with judge Ralph Pagano
Marco’s prizes included a $10,000 cash prize for winning as well as $3,000 for his winning signature dish of Mediterranean Lamb Loin, a year-long paid apprenticeship with a participating chef judge of his choice and the title of 2011 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef.
In addition to vying for the top prize, the 10 competitors also competed in a Mystery Basket Competition and were voted on by fans and attendees for the People’s Choice and Acqua Panna Fan Favorite Awards. Marco won the $3,000 Signature Dish prize for his recipe, Mediterranean Lamb Loin. Jean-François Daigle of The George Brown Chef's School won the Mystery Basket competition, earning him  $3,000, for a dish he created with the surprise ingredients featuring pork loin. Elizabeth Freer from the Culinary Institute of Charleston won the People’s Choice Award, taking away $3,000 for her signature dish, Rabbit Two Ways: Pecan and Spice Encrusted Rabbit Tenderloin with Sweet Braised Rabbit Ravioli and a Baby Spinach, Radicchio Sauté. And Emma Louth from Drexel University scored $3,000 for wowing the online audience with her dish.

“I am thrilled to be named the winner, especially by this amazing panel of judges,” said Marco Bahena. “Not only was it an incredible experience competing against nine really talented competitors, but to be able to cook in one of the most prestigious kitchens in the world and be mentored by such a talented group of chef and media judges for the weekend – I couldn’t have asked for a better jump-start to my career.”
Marco in action
For more information on the competition and to view Marco’s biography and winning recipe, visit,, become a fan on Facebook ( or follow the competition on Twitter at AFChefComp.