STAMFORD, Conn., Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition is combining forces with Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia – Champions' finalist of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" season two and winner of the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Midwest – to launch its 2013 kickoff in early January. This North American competition differentiates itself from other culinary competitions through its deep commitment in advancing culinary mentorship and by facilitating direct relationships between renowned chefs and student competitors.
Mantuano is just one of the many chefs investing themselves in the program, bridging the divide between chef and students. This year's lineup includes Rick Moonen of RM Seafood, Susur Lee of Lee, Mark McEwan of One and Chef Joho of Everest, who will be added to the past roster of 396 chefs, with more than 183 James Beard Foundation accolades.
With more than a decade under its belt, the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition has an inside perspective in the kitchen and has witnessed relationships cultivate between these chef judges and student competitors. It is this unique perspective that inspired the competition to develop its first culinary industry survey, to learn more about the role and state of mentorship in the restaurant industry. Among other indications, key survey findings include that 82% agreed that participating in a culinary competition with hands on mentorship helps contribute to culinary growth and that 84% believe meeting key chef influencers would have helped them achieve their culinary goals.*
Chef Mantuano affirms the truth of these findings. "There's a definite shortfall in the industry, with mentorship imbalance," says Mantuano. "We need more mentorship opportunities outside of educational institutes to guide and lend knowledge to our next generation of culinary legends."
Culinary students representing 75 schools will test their mettle for a place at the finals in Napa Valley this March. Across the 10 regional competitions, students will showcase their skills in hopes of securing an apprenticeship with a participating chef and more than $20,000 in winnings.
During regionals, chefs mentor culinary students on everything from preparation techniques to personal impact – including presence and taste – to final presentation. At the finals competition, three unique contests await regional winners: the Mystery Basket, Signature Dish and People's Choice Awards.
New this year, consumers will be encouraged to participate in the Claim to Almost Fame "Signature Dish" online S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition Facebook sweepstakes. They will be encouraged to share their own Signature Dish, with a chance of winning a trip to the finals in 2014, as well as the honor of having a professional chef recreate their winning dish at a dinner party for 10.
For more information on the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition visit http://www.almostfamouschef.com/SPellegrinoAFC13
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.
*S. Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef Competition collected input from 441 male and females respondents currently working in the food and beverage industry regarding the importance of mentorship to their goals and in their careers Nov 15. and Nov. 21 through Survey Monkey. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
SOURCE S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition