Five chefs advance after Vero’s Top Chef Qualifying Event

VERO BEACH — Twelve of our community’s talented chefs deliciously showcased their “slice, dice & spice” skills at the Qualifying Competition of Vero’s Top Chef Challenge to benefit the Homeless Family Center, wowing guests and culling the field to the five chefs who will go on to compete in the final Top Chef Challenge on Monday, February 22 at the Quail Valley River Club.

With a flurry of excitement, guests entered the main dining room of the Club at Pointe West, the venue sponsor for the Qualifying event, where the competing chefs had set up their stations. All of the participating restaurant owners, country clubs, chefs and sous-chefs volunteered their time and donated all the food and wine for the event. “Fabulous” was the comment heard most often throughout the evening, as guests sampled a host of culinary delights. As enticing aromas wafted around us, chefs and their assistants efficiently replenished their dishes, in many cases cooking items on the spot. Some participants opted to showcase only one or two dishes, while others offered several options. The varied assortment of presentations ranged from savory and simple to all out spectacular.

Guests, armed with five voting cards, wandered the room at their own pace, stopping at high-top tables to leisurely enjoy each offering. After choosing their favorite dishes, they deposited voting cards into little ‘chefs hat’ containers at each station. Toward the end of the evening, votes were tallied up and the five finalists were announced by Julia Keenan, Executive Director of Homeless Families Center and Chef Joe Faria Executive Chef of the Quail Valley River Club and the event’s chef coordinator.

The chefs who will go on to compete in the next level are:

Nick Bradbury, Quail Valley River Club; Andrew Keller, The Club at Pointe West; Michele Hennessey, River Grille; Raymond Mumford, Costa d’Este; and Neil Williams, Lakes at Pointe West. The twelve chefs who competed were:  Nick Bradbury, Quail Valley River Club; Gregg DeAquair, Dockside Grille; Mitch Dembrowski, Regency Park; Michele Hennessey, River Grille; Andrew Keller,  The Club at Pointe West; Brian Lavergne, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort; Steve Long, Sea Oaks; Tom Lund, Ti Amo Sempre; Raymond Mumford, Costa d’Este; Kitty Wagner, Undertow Restaurant; Neil Williams, Lakes at Pointe West; and Bradley Willits, Cobalt.  {igallery 137}

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