Finalists Announced For The 2016 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition

Five promising culinary students will compete for the winning title and a year-long culinary apprenticeship with one of the country's top chefs

Feb 25, 2016, 10:05 ET from S.Pellegrino

STAMFORD, Conn., Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water today announced the finalists in its 2016 Almost Famous Chef competition. The talented culinary student-contestants, joined by their respective chef mentors, will advance to the final competition in Napa Valley, CA to vie for the coveted S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef title and a one-year paid apprenticeship with one of the country's top chefs.  The national winner will also get 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.

In its 13th year, the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition serves as a platform for leading culinary schools to showcase their most talented students' expertise, demonstrating the brand's passion for supporting emerging culinary talent.

The five regional finalists and their top chef mentors are:

  • 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
  • Jessica Ngo, Le Cordon Bleu College, Boston
    • Mentor Chef: Chris Coombs, Deuxave, Boston Chops and dbar restaurants
  • Marcio Florez, Nashville State Community College
    • Mentor Chef: Grae Nonas, Olamaie
  • Charles Wilson, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Oregon
    • Mentor Chef: Cathy Whims, Nostrana, Hamlet and Oven & Shaker

The 2016 competition kicked off in January and featured culinary students from across the country in a series of five regional competitions. Students were guided by their respective culinary school mentors as well as distinguished chef mentors before presenting their signature dishes to a panel of esteemed chef judges.

"The level of talent amongst the student finalists continues to inspire us every year," said Adaora Ugokwe, Senior Marketing Manager for Nestle Waters North America.  "Past competitors in this competition – several of whom are now participating as judges – have made great advancements in the culinary community and we're confident that the 2016 winners will be no exception."  

The 2016 Almost Famous Chef final competition will take place from March 11-13, 2016 in Napa Valley, CA. The finalists will work alongside their respective chef mentors throughout the weekend's series of challenges and events. All participants will have a chance to win various category prizes, including the Mystery Basket Challenge, People's Choice Award, Signature Dish and the Overall Winner who will take home the Almost Famous chef title and a one-year paid apprenticeship with an accomplished chef.

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, S.Pellegrino Young Chef and S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competitions. 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 or

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SOURCE S.Pellegrino