BANGOR, Maine — Eastern Maine Community College and the Bangor Daily News are pleased to announce the first annual Maine Chef Challenge, to be held Friday, March 23. Using a format similar to The Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” yet with a decidedly Maine flair, three chefs — representing Ipanema Bar & Grill and The Reverend Noble Pub in Bangor; Pairings at Winterport Winery; and Jeanie Marshal Foods, an international food manufacturer based in Bangor — will battle with their teams for both the bragging rights and title of Maine’s Chef in an exciting culinary competition.
• Laurie Turner, resident chef at Winterport Winery’s Pairings Food and Wine Education Center. Spending the first part of her career in the business world, it was when her two daughters went off to college that Turner decided to pursue her passion and enrolled in the EMCC Culinary Arts program. Turner was named Student of the Year in her graduating class, and is a member of the American Culinary Federation and National Honor Society.
• Douglass Winslow, assistant, who started his culinary career at the age of 15 at a girl’s summer camp on Sebago Lake. After graduating from the three-year ACF culinary program and the Westin Hotels three-year apprentice program, Winslow began his professional career as chef at the Tara Plantation Restaurant in Moberly, Mo.; the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, Ga.; and the Lucerne Inn. In 2007, Winslow and his wife owned a wine brokering company. He joined Chef Turner at the Winterport Winery in 2011.
• Ryan Cough, assistant, who comes from French and Italian ancestry. A 2010 graduate of EMCC with an associate degree in culinary arts and restaurant management, he pursues his passion as the sous chef at Pairing’s and as head chef, seasonally, at the Black Sheep Tavern and the Harborview Grille, both in Bucksport.
• Jason Payne credits EMCC for giving him the foundation for building his career as a chef. A 1996 graduate of the culinary arts program at EMCC, Payne has worked in a variety of culinary positions and cuisines ranging from a line cook in diners, to executive chef at fine dining restaurants throughout the region and the greater Bangor area. He currently provides catering services through Jeanie Marshal Foods as an inflight chef for private and corporate flights, as well as to local patrons.
• Dustin Hildebrandt, assistant, is serious about food. Born and raised on Long Island, N.Y., Hildebrandt moved to Maine in 2005 and graduated from EMCC’s Culinary Arts program in 2008. He currently serves as a catering chef at Jeanie Marshal Foods Inc.
• Joe Hildreth, assistant, was born and raised in Old Town. He has more than 28 years of experience in all aspects of “back of the house,” beginning his culinary journey as a dishwasher an bus boy. Hildreth has worked at eateries including The Colorado Public Library in Boston, as well as the 1280 on Beacon Street. While in Florida, he was employed at such establishments as the Tampa Improv and Aston Gardens. Of his culinary favorites, Hildreth enjoys experimenting with cultural food fusion, while being comfortable with the classics.
• Meghan Woodbury loves being in the kitchen cooking and creating new and inspired dishes. She is the executive chef of Ipanema Bar & Grill and Reverend Noble Pub in Downtown Bangor. A 2011 graduate of EMCC with an associate degree in culinary arts, Woodbury had the distinction of attaining the R.M. Flagg Award for outstanding skills in the execution and production of culinary arts.
• Brett Settle, assistant, is the co-owner of Giacomo’s in downtown Bangor. He has 24 years of restaurant experience, mostly in private establishments, including five years as general manager of Uno’s. Settle divides his time between bartending and cooking, although cooking becomes the priority each time he helps set up new establishments.
• Hillary Herrick, assistant, is a 2011 graduate of EMCC’s culinary arts program and the restaurant and food service management program, Herrick has three passions: baking, cooking and the outdoors. She has chosen to pursue her first two passions in the institutional culinary arena where she first gained experience in local assisted living and nursing home facilities. She currently works as a cook at a county penitentiary.
Doors of the Johnston Gym, located on the EMCC campus, will open at 5:30 p.m. with the challenge getting under way at 6:30 p.m. Each chef will prepare a total of three courses during the competition. Judging will be led by Lou Kiefer, executive chef of the Bar Harbor Inn. Area culinary experts, including Emily Burnham of the Bangor Daily News and Todd Simcox of WABI-TV will join Kiefer at the judges’ table. The fourth judge, a member of the audience, will join the judges before the competition.
All proceeds will benefit the Maine Hospitality Institute at EMCC and directly affect students enrolled in the Culinary Arts program, as well as the new hospitality and tourism management program — the first and only associate degree of its kind offered in Maine. Tickets are $35 for premium seating, $25 for regular seating or $44 for two.
Sponsors of the Maine Chef Challenge 2012 include Bangor Savings Bank, Bangor Daily News, Bronson Audio Visual & Event Services and Bangor Hydro-Electric Company.