A competition last weekend among 16 Art Institute of California students in Santa Ana left three finalists anxiously waiting to hear if they will be named the Next Golden Chef of the annual Golden Foodie Awards and win a $25,000 scholarship this September.
Competition finalists (L to R)
Francis Laureano, Roshelle May and
The Golden Foodie Awards invite the public to vote for their favorite restaurants and chefs online for various awards. The 16 student chefs were asked to submit their favorite recipe and why they wanted to become the Next Golden Chef to enter the competition, and were judged by a panel of local restaurant owners and Food Network chefs.
“Competing is a great learning experience for young chefs and all of the participants should be proud of their accomplishment,” said Danial Mattos, culinary arts academic director at The Art Institute of California, Orange County. “The three semi-finalists selected showed precision with their technique and were creative with the ingredients thinking outside of the box. But most of all they were ambitious and just went for it putting their heart on the plate.”
Students were judged on taste and presentation, recipe selection, culinary skills and their short statement introducing the dish. At the end of the first round, the three finalists – Vincent Espinoza from Costa Mesa, Roshelle May from Mission Viejo and Francis Laureano from La Mirada – participated in a mystery basket competition in which they were given specific ingredients to create a dish.
"The caliber and talent of culinary students we saw today was incredible. What a great way to launch the season of Golden Foodie Awards events," said Tricia Cook, executive vice president of operations for the awards.
Judges of the competition included Susan Irby, “the Bikini Chef”; Pascal Olhats, owner of Pascal Restaurant; Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos; Jason Quinn, owner of Playground and The Lime Truck; Mareya Ibrahim, a writer for Edible Orange County Magazine; and Daniel Mattos, culinary arts academic director from the Art Institute of California, Orange County.
Voting for the official Golden Foodie Awards begins July 1, and will culminate with an awards event at the Fairmont Newport Beach Hotel Sept. 30.
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