9TH ANNUAL S. PELLEGRINO ALMOST FAMOUS CHEF COMPETITION Was held at the Restaurant School last week. (4207 Walnut Street)The world’s brightest culinary students will soon be competing for the opportunity of a lifetime. Find out how today’s aspiring young chefs will perform under pressure as they are judged and mentored by celebrity chefs and media personalities in fiery competition—with up to $20,000 and a dream job at stake. (source)
The chef competitors were:

Thanks to my buddy Laura Burkhardt for getting me involved in this competition to be a judge. It was a fun experience, especially being in the thick of things watching the judges observe and ask questions of the chefs. Chef Matt Levin, Adsum and Laura Burkhardt, Where Magazine. (PS Matt made the hat he tells me.) We were all given extensive documents on the chefs background as well as what they were about to cook.

Restaurant School’s Chef Bottone and Chef Edwin Scholly. Scholly is one of a 100 Master Chefs in the US.

Chef Mike Stollenwerk , Fish Restaurant, me, Chef Daniel Giusti, 1789 Restaurant, Chef Peter McAndrews, Modo Mio and Chef Michael Solomonov, ZahavDrexel University’s Chef Edward Bottone and student (& PhillyChitChat reader) Devon Montgomery-Bender, Special Events Manager at Phoenixville Country Club. The judges were dead on scrutinizing the dishes as they were presented and tasted. It was interesting and uncomfortable for me as the judges were honest with the chefs, which of course is helpful in the end in preparing the chef for their careers. For me I am so emotionally involved I just see students working so hard to get the best plate, or who really believe in their dish.
This was my 2nd favorite dish. Danielle Ogunkoya. It was lamb chops “Tangier” with spiced sausage, Moroccan tomato sauce, raita and mango. The judges thought it was all over the place, but I thought it tasty. Plus I was impressed she could pull it together as she had a mishap in the kitchen cutting her finger, then going to take care of it before returning to complete her dish under the time limit. Danielle tells me she would love to be on the show “Chopped”, so Ted Allen if you’re listening give this Restaurant School student a call!As the judging occurred above, friends and family were tasting the competition dishes below in one of the dining rooms of the school. Did you know you could dine at the school daily to taste some of the culinary delights of the students. Check out the info here. The judging criteria was based on composure under pressure, confidence, inspirational dish, responds well to judges questions, and flavor texture and degree of doneness. You see they were under a deadline so some dishes did not come out completely cooked, and a few came out over cooked. These student judges were under a lot of pressure and for the most part performed well. A One that was called out did admit that time was elusive and his dish reflected that.
The student chefs were all given a questionnaire on topics ranging from their favorite chef, food, and color. Danielle’s favorite color was purple and her measuring cups reflected that. Benjamin Rosen likes green, but says it doesn’t play a role in his meal preparation. Krzysztof Babik says red is very warming and an exciting color, but again it does not affect they way he cooks.
Emma Louth from Drexel University with her winning signature dish – Smoke/Ocean/Prairie. As soon as her plate hit the judging table the judges were smitten with the simplicity of the plate, the traditional presentation and the delicious bison that even Ted Turner would be drooling over.
Ten regional winners will be flown to the finals event taking place March 11 – 14, 2011, at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif. They will compete in three categories: the Mystery Basket, Signature Dish and People’s Choice. The three days of competition are fierce, with the esteemed panel of judges evaluating competitors on every detail from the taste, texture and aroma of the dish, to their presentation, kitchen skills and the ability to perform under pressure. Emma K Louth will be among the competitors, food luck Emma!