The S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition Finds the Next Big Name at Kendall College

Qi Ai of Kendall College delivered a duck dish so good, it earned a spot in the national finals

Qi Ai putting finishing touches on her winning dish.

The restaurant scene is always about the next big thing, from food trends to inventive chefs. To find that next kitchen superstar, Kendall College hosted the Central Regional S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.

Student chefs from across the region served their signature dishes to a panel of distinguished chefs, including Curtis Duffy of Grace, Sarah Grueneberg (formerly of Spiaggia), and David Posey (formerly of Blackbird).

The dinner displayed considerable taste and talent, but Qi Ai of Kendall College walked away with the win. Her Duo of Duck impressed the judges and secured her place in the Almost Famous Chef finals to be held in Napa Valley, California.


Originally from Beijing, Qi Ai entered the competition with a formidable résumé. Currently working under chefs Carlos Gaytan and Frank Valdez at Mexique, she has also worked in the kitchen at Everest. Qi Ai will compete in the finals under the mentorship of chef Grueneberg against four other regional winners in March.