WMCC culinary arts professor Giles takes first in Grand Challenge

WMCC Culinary Arts Professor Chef Travis Giles topped a field of eight to win Sunday afternoon's Grand Challenge at the Mountain View Grand. He accepted the winner's silver bowl, plus $3,000, from Julie Moran of Colebrook, CEO of the North Country Farmers Co-op, after Chef Gary Sheldon of Maine declared the results reached by a three-chef panel of judges. (click for larger version)
November 06, 2013
WHITEFIELD — Culinary Arts Professor Chef Travis Giles of the White Mountains Community College in Berlin topped the other seven chefs who competed in Sunday afternoon's Grand Challenge, held in the Presidential Hall at the Mountain View Grand Hotel.

Most of the chefs, including Giles, were chosen in earlier competitions held in the three sub-regions of the North Country.

Chef Gary Sheldon, who works for Sysco and is a member of the exclusive Honorable Order of the Golden Toque as well as one of only 700 members of the ACF Honor Society American Academy of Chefs, announced the first-place winner to over 250 area residents and guests who bought tickets to the competition, including a chance to enjoy sample the chefs' entries, all cooked on site.

The scores of the top chefs were numerically very, very close but Giles earned the most points from the three-chef panel of judges, Sheldon explained.

In addition to his food tasting "fantastic," Sheldon said, "Chef Giles used all the parts of the animal; he made pâté and sausage, and also braised it and also produced a dessert with multiple elements."

Giles was presented with a handsome silver bowl, plus $3,000, by Julie Moran of Colebrook, the CEO and president of North Country Farmers Co-op, who organized the competition with many partners, supporters, and sponsors, including the Mountain View Grand.

Giles spoke modestly at the podium, attributing many of his skills and understandings about food to Executive Chef Matt Houghton of Whitefield, who retired on Friday, Nov. 1, from the AMC's Highland Center in Bretton Woods.

Two chefs from restaurants located about a mile apart on Route 302 in Glen won the next two slots.

Chef Tim Pomerleau of the White Mountain Cider Company came in second.

Lisa Raymond of the Margarita Grill came in third. She gave kudos to her kitchen helper, Justin Ross.

Contestants were the top two qualifying winners of each of three regional events, competing against Matt Houghton of the AMC Highland Center, last year's Top Chef and last year's event host chef, Steve Learned of the Abbey Group in Enosburg Falls, Vt., that serves SAU 7 schools.

The three other outstanding chefs were: Romeo Belardo from Bailiwick's in Littleton; Jonathan Saiff from the Bretton Arms at the Omni Mt Washington Resort in Bretton Woods; and Josh Riach from the Mountain View Hotel.

The People's Choice was also a hotly contested race, in which ticket-holders voted for their favorite entrée, dessert, and stage presentation.

Lisa Raymond won the overall Top People's Choice.

Top individual vote getters were Tim Pomerleau for his entrée; and Lisa Raymond for both her dessert and stage presentation.

The Grand Challenge highlighted the excellent chefs of the North Country as well as how they increasingly use local products, Moran explained in an e-mail exchange. The NCF Coop is using the event as way to help raise $20,000 to secure a refrigerated delivery truck in time for next summer's growing season.

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