David Awad, Groton, a chef at Octagon restaurant and student at the Connecticut Culinary Institute won the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition which took place on March 6-9 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, CA.
David, selected among the best culinary student chefs across the U.S. and Canada, competed in three categories: the Mystery Basket, Signature Dish and People’s Choice. Inspired by his Lebanese heritage, David prepared a pan-seared lamb loin with a red wine, honey and mint glaze, a goat cheese polenta and hummus chips, with a kalamata olive and artichoke salad. David won the grand prize of $10,000, the Mystery Basket Contest and a paid apprenticeship at a national culinary establishment.
“I am thrilled to be honored in this prestigious competition,” said David. “I am humbled by such recognition; it is a tremendous personal achievement and the affirmation of years of hard work.”
“I would like to congratulate David on his great success at the 7th Annual S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition,” said Michael Allen, general manager at the Mystic Marriott Hotel and Spa. “This prestigious recognition comes from an extremely tough competition and it is a great honor for David and the hotel.”
David, who joined Octagon restaurant as a cook in June of 2006, plans to graduate in May from the Connecticut Culinary Institute and is eager to start his apprenticeship.
“Working at Octagon and under Executive Chef Steve Rosen’s supervision certainly allowed me to hone my skills and prepare for this all-star cast of top culinary students finalists from across the United States and Canada, said Awad. “The hands-on experience and mentorship I received since I started working at Octagon is invaluable and continues to be an inspiration.”