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Distinguished North American Chefs named Jennifer Kim as 10th S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef winner

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Jacqueline White
Salt Communications
[email protected]

Jennifer Kim
leaves Napa Valley with the winning title, $22,000 in prizes
and a mentorship experience of a lifetime

(Stamford, Conn., March 12, 2012) – Jennifer Kim is the winner of the 10th annual S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Competition. Last night, actress Lorraine Bracco and chef Ralph Pagano hosted the finals competition at The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif., where Jennifer Kim ousted nine competing student finalists from the U.S. and Canada. Jennifer Kim, from Kendall College traveled from Chicago to present her signature dish, Chard-Rolled Duck Roulade, to a panel of judges made up of prominent culinary chefs and media influencers in North America. Kim spent the last five months preparing for the powerful three-day competition and her signature dish proved excellent to the taste buds of Michelin Star and James Beard Award–winning chefs: Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Michel Richard of Citronelle, Gary Danko of Restaurant GARY DANKO, Susur Lee of LEE Restaurant, Bob Hurley of Hurley’s and Chef Joho of Everest.

Kim and her nine culinary peers had the unique opportunity to receive invaluable advice not only from the chef judges, but also from culinary-focused media influencers: Sophie Gayot of, Adam Rapoport of Bon Appétit, James Oseland of Saveur and Lucy Waverman of The Globe and Mail, which rounded out the judging panel. Special guest, chef Gavin Kaysen, executive chef of Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud, took the finalists away from the kitchen and led a breakfast, sharing his culinary insights.

Of the competition, chef mentor and judge Tony Mantuano said, "I don’t think there is anything more important that we can do to lend our knowledge and experience to the kids that are trying to make it in our industry. I wish I had a mentor like that when I was in their position."

Now, as the 2012 title holder of the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, Kim has the opportunity to work with one of the chef judges of the finals competition in a year-paid apprenticeship and received $13,000 for her winning signature dish, Chard-Rolled Duck Roulade. Kim was also the winner of the Mystery Basket competition.

"I am speechless and this is a dream come true – to be chosen as the winner of a culinary competition of this caliber by the best chefs in the nation," said Jennifer Kim. "I’m honored and ready for my career to begin with one of the chef mentors."

In addition to rivaling each other for the top prize, the 10 students competed in several other competitions. Daniel Beal of Johnson & Wales University - Denver won the $3,000 Signature Dish prize for his recipe, Sautéed Chicken Breast with Asparagus, Potato and Ox Tongue. In addition, attendees voted for the People’s Choice Award and fans voted online for the Acqua Panna Fan Favorite Award. Joseph Johnson of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Los Angeles won the People’s Choice Award, taking away $3,000 for his impromptu signature dish, Ras El Hanout Crusted Lamb. Eliakim John Acuna of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts - Miami won over the online audience with his dish, D’ Oceana, winning $3,000.

Throughout the past decade, this competition has partnered with more than 280 award-winning chefs to help launch more than 570 past competitors’ culinary careers. For more information about the competition and to follow Jennifer Kim’s journey, visit


About the S.Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef® Competition

For centuries, Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water and S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water have complemented fine food, wine and the dining occasion. In support of this passion for gastronomy and their commitment to the culinary arts, the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition was founded in 2002 as a mentoring program that connects top culinary students with established chefs and influential media. Since then, this program has helped to launch hundreds of culinary careers and refined the skills of a new generation of chefs. Through the Almost Famous Chef Competition, student chefs are given the opportunity to gain unmatched experience, while cooking in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world.

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