9th Annual Worcester’s Best Chef Competition
When: Sunday, January 31, 2016
What time: 5-8 PM VIP: 4 PM
Where: Historic Mechanics Hall
For 9 years, the Worcester’s Best Chef Competition has been promoting the Central Massachusetts area as a culinary destination for foodies. With its vast array of offerings, Central Massachusetts is rich with culinary expertise and creativity, and it has more than enough talent to be considered a destination city equal to Boston, Providence, Hartford, Portland, and many others. WBC’s goal--since inception--has always been to showcase that talent.
Recently, WBC organizers have taken the event in a new, fun, and engaging direction, one that introduces many unique attributes and experiences to our foodie community and truly showcases to our crowd of 1,000+ foodies the culinary genius of chefs not just from Worcester, but from all over Central Massachusetts, Springfield, and Connecticut.
At WBC, there are two categories of competition: Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice. As part of the People’s Choice Award, guests receive a wristband at registration with three tabs (numbered 1, 2, 3). After tasting through the wonderful dishes, guests drop their #1 tab in their favorite chef’s red box, their #2 table in their second choice chef’s box, etc. The results are tabulated by on-site staff from the CPA firm of Houssan & Ojerholm, PC and are announced on stage by our Masters of Ceremonies, Jen Carter and Rick Brackett from the WXLO Morning Show.
The Judges’ Choice Award is granted by the 7-member panel of judges, who vote their top 3 choices. Those 3 chefs are then invited on stage to compete live, Iron Chef-style, in front of the full crowd, on Thermador cook tops provided by Hudson Appliance. It all culminates in an exciting, suspenseful decision by judges as to which of the three will become Worcester’s Best Chef.
Jen Carter of the 104.5 FM WXLO morning show and XLO afternoon host Rick Brackett will be your Masters of Ceremonies beginning at the 5 o'clock hour.
Paying It Forward
Another objective of the event is to assist in the development of up-and-coming chefs. Since its start 9 years ago, the event has hosted high school culinary students who interact with and shadow the competing chefs. The students also receive a donation at the end of each year’s event. Last year, Tantasqua Regional High School’s Culinary Arts program was invited to share in the event alongside Worcester Technical High School’s Culinary Arts students. Both schools showed very well, but Tantasqua garnered more votes for the People’s Choice Student Dessert category. And, with the proceeds that were donated to Tantasqua, the culinary department was able to purchase expensive and much-needed kitchen equipment.
Tantasqua culinary students will be back this year along with another culinary high school, each vying to take home the People’s Choice Award for Best Student Dessert.
A Farming We Will Go
This year, WBC will host 10 local farmers who are all part of Central Mass Grown. Each farmer will bring his/her fresh produce, honey, preserves, or dry-aged beef to showcase for the foodie crowd. These farmers are vital to our community, and many of them have created Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, in which foodies can participate throughout the year. In addition--as many of our chefs create farm-to-table menus--these much-needed farmers are the source of the ingredients for your favorite chef’s signature dishes.
At WBC, you’ll enjoy luxury and convenience. Historic Mechanics Hall is a vibrant and classic concert hall overflowing with charm, character, and sophistication. It is the preferred location for entertainers of world-wide fame and significance, and at WBC, you’ll feel like one of them. Valet parking, a paparazzi photo mob, balcony seating, coffee baristas, wine tastings courtesy of Julio’s Liquors in Westboro, craft beer tastings courtesy of Harpoon, Blue Moon, Sam Adams and Wachusett Brewery, and a full cash bar are also part of the evening.
Come one, come all, and bring your appetite!
What does a VIP ticket get?
Opening Program Master of Ceremony Christina Andrianopoulos, producer and talk show host of City Vibes Metro, will host the VIP hour.
VIP ticketholders enjoy a relaxing hour strolling through and interacting with chefs one-on-one, discovering their signature dishes and coveted culinary secrets from 4pm until 5pm before the event opens to the general public. Listen to the jazz trio "Players to Be Named Later" as you indulge in all the delicious samples at your own relaxing pace.
What Else is on Tap During VIP?
We have a fantastic sushi demo on the schedule by none other than Master Chef Wilson Wang of Baba Sushi. A previous winner at WBC and voted among the top 9 sushi chefs nationwide, Chef Wang will be performing his mesmerizing sushi demo right in front of your eyes. Get up close and personal with this Sushi God at WBC!
Last year's winner was Chef Tim Russo of Volturno Pizza!
2015 Judges' Picks--a three-way tie for first place (for the first time ever!):
Brian Treitman of BT's Smokehouse (Authentic New Orleans Style Gumbo with Rock Shrimp, Andouille Sausage and Chicken, Garnished with Head on Crispy Blue Prawns)
Tim Russo of Volturno Pizza (Oxtail Rotolo with Sliced Octopus, Arrabiatta and Salsa Verde)
John Saccomando of Anzio's Brick Oven Pizza (Scallop Sanguinaccio, Celery Root, Tangerine, Charred Scallion)
2015 People's Choice Awards:
1st place: Christopher O'Harra of Flying Rhino (Sticky Braised Duck Leg over Ginger Wasabi Root Vegetable Puree and Sauteed Zucchini Paparadelle with Hoisin Glaze)
2nd place: Tim Russo of Volturno Pizza (Oxtail Rotolo with Sliced Octopus, Arrabiatta and Salsa Verde)
3rd place: Allen Granberg of Bella's Bistro Pan Seared Duck Breast over a Red Flannel Hash (Beets, Carrots, Fennel, Pears, Leeks, & Duck Sausage) on a bed of Creamy Polenta and Finished with a Drizzle of Frangelico & Espresso Reduction
2015 WXLO Perfect Palate Award:
Chris Towne of Team Phoenix (Ricotta Cheese, Spinach Stuffed Raviolis, with a Shallot and Garlic Infused Olive Oil with a Blackberry Balsamic Sauce)
2015 Best Dessert:
Tantasqua Regional High School--Limoncello Zuppa Inglese: alternating layers of limoncello-syrup soaked sponge cake, lemon whipped cream, lemon curd, and sweetened ricotta, topped with a raspberry coulis.
Speaking of schools, some of the WBC proceeds went to the culinary programs at Tantasqua and Worcester Technical High School. We are humbled...
Words cannot express the gratitude for allowing my students and teachers the opportunity for taking part in such a great event...my kids were beaming this morning and spoke of how much fun they had...this was such a great way to connect with chefs for Team Chef and the student-to-student dyn...amic between the two schools was great...it was as if they had been friends with each other for ever...
I love my job and find myself so proud of my students and my teachers on a regular basis...last night was just one more reason to be proud...Thank you and your entire organization for letting participate...