Monday, May 2, 2011

Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Team Wins 2011 Chefs Challenge

The team from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College was named winner of the 2011 Chefs Challenge during an “Iron Chef” inspired competition – edging out a team from The Art Institute of Michigan of Novi. The competition was held at Boyne Mountain Resort on Saturday, April 30, with Emmy Award winning chef and award-winning cookbook author Eric Villegas serving as master of ceremonies.

Earlier in the day, 11 teams from around Michigan cooked up mini plates which were evaluated by an esteemed group of culinary judges to determine the top two teams. Those teams provided the entertainment for diners that evening by cooking up detailed menu incorporating a variety of Michigan products which were then judged in front of the crowd to pick the top team.

“People’s Choice” awards were presented earlier in the day in several categories:

Beverage Division

Artisan Brew: Short's Brewery
Wine: (TIE) Bowers Harbor Winery & Good Harbor Vineyards
Spirits: Grand Traverse Distillery

Culinary Division

Southwest Michigan: St. Mary's Healthcare (Also named “Overall People’s Choice Winner”)
Northwest Michigan: Odawa Casino & Resort

The Chefs Challenge competition, inspired by the cult sensation Iron Chef America and the famous “Secret Ingredient,” is the culinary must-attend event of the year in Northern Michigan. The food competitions are designed to showcase Michigan food and drink products and their creative applications in a meal. It is an opportunity for Michigan establishments to showcase their talents and gain exposure for their establishment, while raising funds for Challenge Mountain.

The entire weekend benefits nearby Challenge Mountain – a non-profit 501(c)3 organization which provides adaptive outdoor recreational opportunities to people with special needs and their families, free of charge. For more than 25 years, Challenge Mountain has been dedicated to providing a venue for sports, outdoor recreation and leisure skills to those with physical disabilities or mental challenges, and to create happy, healthy and longer lives.

For more information on Chefs Challenge, including the list of teams, judges, seminars and more, log onto For more on Challenge Mountain, visit

PHOTO (back row, l-r, judges): Rob Haney, Chef Hermann Suhs, Ruth Mossok Johnson, Nathan Mileski and Barb Thonin. (front row, l-r, Secchia team): Chef Angus Campbell, Henri Ditmar, Eli Franco, Nick Asianian, Mike Stapert and Sasha Amed.

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