Kristen Thibeault of Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Boston is the winner of the 11th-annual S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. She competed in multiple cooking competitions for the accolades, proving excellence at The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif.
Thibeault outshined nine competing peers from the United States and Canada with her signature dish, Porcini Crusted Vegan “Sweetbreads.” Her dish concept was formulated in October and had since been developed and refined, all toward the intense three-day competition. In addition to those in the kitchen, the front-of-house judge panel, Michelin Star and James Beard Foundation award-winning chefs—Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia; Rick Moonen of RM Seafood; Michel Richard of Citronelle; Mark McEwan of One; Susur Lee of LEE Restaurant; and Jean Joho of Everest—furthered the development of Thibeault through mentorship and critiques.
Throughout the weekend, all finalists were in the spotlight of culinary-focused media influencers, who also served as active judges, including Dana Cowin of Food & Wine, Betsy Andrews of Saveur, Mitchell Davis of The James Beard Foundation, Jacob Richler of Maclean’s and Sophie Gayot of gayot.com.
“The culinary industry is competitive and there is not a competition of this nature that exists for students,” said Mantuano. “It is really necessary to have a competition like this for our next generation of great chefs.”