The winners got cash prizes; they'll also move on to cook for 400 people at the Winterfest White Party in November -- a prelude to the Winterfest boat parade. Then, the night of the parade, the winner of the Best Overall Dish gets to ride on the grand marshal's boat. The value of such a prize varies from year-to-year. In past years, Kim Kardashian and Shaquille O'Neal have served as grand marshal; last year it was Barry Gibb. This year's grand marshal won't be announced until November.
Ashley Hughes, Culinary School at the Art Institute director Jack Kane,
Publix Apron Cooking School Resident Chef Daniel Wes Bonner, and
Celebrity Chef Ralph Pagano, picked the winning dishes of each category.
categories included: small plate, holiday beef entree, sliders,
dessert, and beverage. Each dish had to include at least one product
from the official sponsors: Adonia, Ciao Bella, Perrier, Stubb's Bar-B-Q
sauce, and the Beef Council.
Students from the Art Institute began submitting recipes in August. Chef Andrew Lyman and Chef Jack Kane of the Art Institute narrowed the entrants down to final contestants for the competition. In the end, there were eight contestants; with one dropping out due to a malfunction.
The contestants started cooking early in the morning -- they had plenty of time to prep and cook. The judges started tasting around 10 in the morning. We wish we could say that Bekys did something crazy -- but the judges quietly sat and discussed their opinions among themselves -- no super nerve-wracking rose ceremony or public shaming like you'd see on an episode of reality TV -- and voted on each dish. Winners were announced all together at the end.
Each category came with a $500 prize. Al Cacace, winner of best overall and best beverage, said, "this was a
great opportunity to be able to show my work and compete like this. It
feels really good to win for two of my dishes. We all worked really hard
and everyone did a great job."