Portland chef wins it all on competitive cooking show ‘Kitchen Inferno’

Posted Dec. 11, 2014, at 2:22 p.m.

Chef Shannon Bard of Portland Mexican restaurant Zapoteca appeared on an episode of Food Network’s newest cooking competition, “Kitchen Inferno,” on Wednesday, and the Maine chef ended up winning all four rounds and collecting $25,000.

“It was a pretty amazing experience,” Bard said. “I’m so thrilled.”

“Kitchen Inferno,” hosted by celebrity chef Curtis Stone, pits one chef against four other chefs of varying skill levels, from beginning to master. It is new this season on the Food Network.

Bard, renowned for her creative take on Mexican cuisine at Zapoteca and her other restaurant, Mixteca of Durham, New Hampshire, took on four different chefs in four different rounds. In the first round, she competed against a rising star chef and could choose to either take a check for $5,000 and be done with the show or move onto the next round and forfeit that money for a chance to win $10,000 in a battle against a fellow restaurant owner.

She went onto round two and won that, moving onto round three, wherein she competed against celebrity chef, then bet it all to win all the money in the final round. In the final round, she competed against chef Michael Chiarello of the renowned California restaurant Bottega. Bard was tasked with creating several dishes from traditional New England foods, including butternut squash, venison and oysters.

“I made chipotle dusted venison with a cranberry pecan mole, a butternut and poblano pepper puree and chipotle oysters,” Bard said.

Bard intends to use her $25,000 prize to take her five children on an epic vacation.

“They’ve been so supportive. They are my biggest cheerleaders. They understand when I have to work late,” Bard said. “So I’m going to take them wherever they want to go and make it all about them. That’ll be nice.”

Bard’s episode of “Kitchen Inferno” will re-air on the Food Network at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13. For more information, visit the “Kitchen Inferno” website. Zapoteca is located at 505 Fore St. in Portland’s Old Port.

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