Tony Mantuano on the Almost Famous Chef Competition
The Spiaggia chef discusses the program's 5th year and why mentorship is important for young chefs
Professional chefs have always had culinary competitions, such as the Bocuse d’Or. But what about younger chefs who want practice and mentorship? Ten years ago that question was answered with the creation of the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, to give culinary students a place to compete and hone their skills.
As the competition has grown, more chefs have joined the event and this year’s spokesperson is longtime advocate Tony Mantuano. He wanted to become the spokesperson because he "watched it grow over the years and watched the competition level get incredibly better every year," says Mantuano.
Mantuano believes the competition benefits both students and chefs: "There’s the selfish rule for us as restaurateurs and chefs we want talent and we want to develop it," he says. "There were very few situations where these kids could have access to mentorship and world-class chefs. It fills a void and I would have loved to have someone to mentor me when I was coming up."
The competition starts with 74 schools around North America that compete among themselves to find one student to represent their school. Then it’s onto a regional competition and the whole event culminates with the finals in Napa, Calif., this March. You can follow the competition at San Pellegrino's Facebook page and watch the video above to learn more!