January 30 at the Calphalon Culinary Center in Toronto Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec student Daniela Molettieri showcased her skills against some of the most talented culinary students in Canada.
The judging panel included Chef Jonas Mangao of Lee Restaurant, Chef Heinrich Meesen, Le Château Laurier, Chef Julia Hanna, Julia’s Ristorante, Chef Sebastien Houle, Restaurant sEb, Chef Richardo Roque, Brasserie Crème, and media judges Annabelle Waugh, Food Director, Canadian Living Magazine, Emily Richards, Food Columnist, Metro Newspapers and Alexa Clark, blogger at unsweetened.ca. The panel awarded Molettieri the once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete at the finals competition to be held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley from March 9-12, 2012.
The fast-paced, high-pressure cooking competition included six culinary students representing The George Brown Chefs School (Toronto), The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Vancouver, École hôtelière de la Capitale (Québec City) and Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (Montréal).
Molettieri won high marks with her innovative signature dish recipe, Fillet of Veal Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms. The demanding, in-depth evaluation from the judging panel took place during a lively tasting reception for local media, chefs and invited guests. Molettieri was met with cheers and applause as she was crowned the Canadian regional winner.
“I owe a lot of my success this evening to Chef Côté, my ITHQ advisor,” says Molettieri. “He spent a lot of time helping me prepare for this competition and his patience really paid off.
In celebration of its 10th year, Molettieri will join the nine past winners of the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition during the three-day finals event. Past winners will work alongside Molettieri and an esteemed judging panel to mentor the 10 finalists throughout the three days of fierce competition. All finals competitors will be evaluated in three competition categories: the Mystery Basket, Signature Dish and People’s Choice.
The highly intense, star-powered weekend will culminate with the announcement of the 2012 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef. The event will be broadcast live via the Almost Famous Chef Competition Facebook fan page where viewers can vote for their favorite competitor and ask questions of the celebrity chef panel. The overall winner will take home the title along with up to $22,000 in prizes and a career-changing apprenticeship with a master chef.
Another winner at the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Canadian Regional Competition was Anne-Marie Plourde, a student at École hôtelière de la Capitale. She won the hearts and palates of everyone in attendance at The Calphalon Center and was rewarded with the People’s Choice award for her signature recipe, Roasted Duck Breast and Gingerbread Crusted Foie Gras.
“I’m really pleased to win the People’s Choice award,” says Plourde. “Even though I didn’t win overall, I know a lot of people enjoyed my dish tonight.”
About the S.Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef® Competition
For centuries, Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water and S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water have complemented fine food, wine and the dining occasion. In support of this passion for gastronomy and their commitment to the culinary arts, the 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 hundreds of culinary careers and refined the skills of a new generation of chefs. Through the Almost Famous Chef Competition, student chefs are given the opportunity to gain unmatched experience, while cooking in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world.