Canadian culinary students vie for $10,000 and ultimate career opportunity in 6th annual S.Pellegrino(TM) Almost Famous Chef(SM) Competition

    Hollywood actress and Top Chef winner to host finals in Napa Valley

    TORONTO, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - The search for the next North American culinary
star is under way, with more than 60 culinary students from Canada and the
United States sharpening their knives in hopes of becoming the newest Almost
Famous Chef(SM). More than 30 of the top culinary schools in North America
will be participating in the 6th annual S.Pellegrino(TM) Almost Famous
Chef(SM) Competition, giving students the rare opportunity to compete in
10 regional competitions and the chance to prepare their respective signature
dishes for an esteemed panel of chef and media judges.
    Winners from each regional competition will be flown to the finals at The
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California. Taking
place March 7-10, 2008, the regional winners will compete in three categories:
the Mystery Basket, Signature Dish and People's Choice Tasting Gala.
Individual winners from each category will receive a cash prize. The overall
winner - who will be crowned the 2008 Almost Famous Chef - will receive
$10,000 as well as the opportunity to work with a distinguished chef for a
    2008 marks the second year when Canadian culinary students are eligible
to compete in the prestigious event. In 2007, budding chefs from Toronto and
Montréal participated in Canada's first ever S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef
regional competition, which provided them with the opportunity to compete and
be recognized on an international stage amongst leaders in the culinary
industry. This year, the Canadian competition has expanded to include Canada's
top culinary schools in not only Toronto and Montréal, but also Vancouver.
Students from Toronto's George Brown College, Montréal's ITHQ (Institut de
tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec), and now The International Culinary School
at The Art Institute of Vancouver will compete at the regional competition in
Toronto on February 2 for a chance to advance to the finals in Napa Valley.
    Last year's Canadian regional winner, Patrick Kriss from George Brown
College, represented Canada at the Napa Valley finals and gained invaluable
experience through competing in front of celebrity chefs and food media alike.
    "It was an honour to be part of such a prestigious event," says Kriss,
who is currently working with infamous chef Daniel Boulud in his New York City
restaurant, Daniel. "This important competition provided a rare and unique
opportunity to be exposed to influential chefs and mentors in the culinary
    Adding extra sizzle at this year's competition are the Food Network's Top
Chef winner, Harold Dieterle, along with award-winning actress, Lorraine
Bracco, famous for her role on The Sopranos, and president of Bracco Wines.
Dieterle will serve as the master of ceremonies and celebrity chef at the
finals competition in Napa Valley, and will co-host the People's Choice
Tasting Gala with Bracco to announce the 2008 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef
    "The restaurant industry is extremely competitive," says Harold Dieterle.
"Almost Famous sets up these young chefs to thrive in high-pressure
situations, which is why so many of the students leave the competition and go
on to work for some of the best restaurants."
    Ranbir Batra, winner of the 2006 Almost Famous Chef Competition, credits
the event with jump-starting his career. "The Almost Famous Chef Competition
provided me with an experience that I will never forget. Working alongside
chefs like Sara Moulton and Victor Scargle was an opportunity none of us would
have received in a classroom," says Batra. "The career options I had after
winning would have taken me years to get on my own, and I am very grateful to
S.Pellegrino for opening so many doors."

    About S.Pellegrino

    The No.1 sparkling mineral water brand in fine dining restaurants,
S.Pellegrino(R) Sparkling Natural Mineral Water has been appreciated as the
perfect meal accompaniment since its discovery in the 13th century. High in
the mountains north of Milan, the waters rise from an underground aquifer,
where 14 distinct minerals in the limestone and volcanic rock impart a unique
flavor. Lightly carbonated, S.Pellegrino is the ideal complement to every
dining experience. For more information on S.Pellegrino, visit or

For further information:

For further information: Frances Manlucu or Elizabeth Goldenshtein,
(416) 969-2715 or (416) 969-2717, or

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