STAMFORD, Conn., March 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water announced today Chef Marcio Florez from Nashville State Community College is the winner of the 2016 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, held in Napa Valley, CA over the weekend. Florez earned this coveted title by competing against four other culinary students from across the country in a series of events over the course of two days. In addition to being named the title holder, Florez will receive a one-year paid apprenticeship with a renowned chef and will be invited to attend the 2016 FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen as part of the Culinary Crew and assist in culinary demonstrations throughout the course of the weekend. Chef Grae Nonas of Olamaie served as Florez's mentor throughout the competition, advising on ways to enhance his dish.
In its 13th year, the event unites the nation's most skilled and passionate culinary students from across the country. The 2016 competition kicked off in January, where the brand held a series of five regional competitions to determine who would qualify for the finals event in Napa Valley. The five regional finalists and their mentors were as follows:
- Vincent Brady, The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
- Mentor Chef: Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde
- Daven Coad, The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Charleston
- Mentor Chef: Jose Mendin, Pubbelly
- Marcio Florez, Nashville State Community College
- Mentor Chef: Grae Nonas, Olamaie
- Jessica Ngo, Le Cordon Bleu College, Boston
- Mentor Chef: Chris Coombs, Deuxave, Boston Chops and dbar restaurants
- Charles Wilson, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Oregon
- Mentor Chefs: Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, Ox
Throughout the weekend, the chefs participated in a series of culinary events including the "Mystery Basket" and "Signature Dish" competition. The panel of judges included the aforementioned chef mentors along with Christina Grdovic, Publisher at Food & Wine and Destiny Antommarchi, winner of the 2015 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef. Additional awards were given throughout the weekend as well, including:
- People's Choice Award
- Winner: Chef Daven Coad
- Mystery Basket Challenge Award
- Winner: Chef Marcio Florez
- Signature Dish Award:
- Winner: Chef Vincent Brady
"We are so proud of Chef Florez for winning this esteemed award," said Adaora Ugokwe, Senior Marketing Manager for Nestlé Waters North America. "His determination to win throughout the weekend was palpable, and considering the high level of talent he was up against, it was a very impressive feat. This unique competition provides deserving culinary students a platform to showcase their skills in front of revered chefs and influencers in the industry, and we look forward to following the next chapter of their culinary careers."
"This competition has had a profound impact on my experience as a chef," said Florez. "As I embark on my career, I will take with me all of the lessons I learned from my chef mentor and fellow competitors to propel myself forward and be the best chef I can be."
For photos and more information on the 2016 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, visit https://www.facebook.com/SanPellegrinoUS/.
About S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
The signature taste of S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water is created during a 30-year journey through the Italian Alps, where the water is naturally filtered. S.Pellegrino cleanses the palate and amplifies subtle flavors, making it the perfect complement to fine food and wines. This clean, refreshing taste helped S.Pellegrino become a preferred sparkling water in fine-dining restaurants in the USA, and pairs well with any occasion.
S.Pellegrino is dedicated to supporting culinary talent on a national and global level, with exciting programs, including The James Beard Foundation Awards, The World's 50 Best Restaurants list, and S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. These challenges enable rising talent to compete against their peers for recognition by panels of acclaimed chef judges and industry leaders. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/SanPellegrinoUS or www.finedininglovers.com.