News

Posted August 3, 2015

2015 CT Chefs Challenge Competitors and Judges Announced

If you are a foodie, check out this amazing article written by OmNomCT about Optimus Foundation's upcoming CT Chef's Challenge Event!

This is a night you don't want to miss!


Posted September 19, 2014

2015 CT Chef's Challenge

Competitors and Judges Announced

Winners Announced in the 4th Annual

Connecticut Chefs Challenge



On Friday September 19, more than 100 guests sampled dishes from some of Connecticut County's finest chefs at the Fourth Annual Connecticut Chefs Challenge.


Held at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton and hosted by WICC-AM’s Tony Reno, the evening started with a cocktail hour, silent auction, photo booth, and beer and wine tasting complete with music from guitarist Joe Kiernan.


In an innovative move concocted by the event organizers, guests were allowed not only to enter each chef's kitchen space, sample the chefs’ creations and discuss the recipes.


The Fourth Annual fundraiser was held by the Optimus Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for Optimus Health Care, Inc. a leading network of community-based clinics offering affordable health care in Bridgeport, Stamford and Stratford. Through the Connecticut Chefs Challenge, the Optimus Foundation raises awareness and much needed funds to carry out its initiatives in underserved communities.


Competing chefs included Pasquale Poccia of Pasquale’s Osteria, Chef Phil of the Fire Engine Pizza Company, Mark Vecchitto of Seehund German Pub & Restaurant, Chef Dan from Chubby's Pub, Pierre-Andre Desruisseaux of Metric Bar & Grill, Jay Daly of Butcher’s Best Country Market and Chef Plum of Plum Luv Foods.


Students from Lincoln Culinary Institute prepared and passed hors d'oeuvres. As one student said, "An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often - these chefs are amazing."




A luminary panel of three judges made their decisions based on a lengthy criteria list which included taste, originality and presentation.


The judges awarded Best in Show to Chef Mark for his Pan-seared Scallops with Taso Brussel Sprouts, Fire-roasted Fuji Apple Risotto and Cider Reduction Drizzle. Chef Jay Daly won second place for his dish “A New England Summer Harvest” featuring Dry-aged NY Strip Steak and Sea Scallop. This entry also received the People’s Choice Award, garnering the most votes by the guests in attendance. Third place went to Chef Dan and Chubby of Chubby’s Pub for their Slow-cooked Ribs.


As part of the prize package, Chef Mark Vecchitto and Seehund German Pub & Restaurant in New London will have ads running on WICC-AM and get a special mention on CTBites.com.


Chef Ted, one of the evening's judges, was impressed with all the entries. “This was a very difficult competition to judge," he said. "Each entry had its own uniqueness and on its own would be an enviable signature dish in any restaurant."


Event Organizer Ashley Keller said, "We had great chefs competing with outstanding menus, several wonderful sponsors, a terrific host, beautiful music, fabulous wine tastings, super volunteers, supportive guests and a gorgeous day. Who can ask for anything more?"


"From the music, to the wines, the chefs creations and student offerings, everything blended so well in such a great setting." said Tom Hill, Optimus Chief Operating Officer.


Through the Connecticut Chefs Challenge, the Optimus Foundation hopes to raise awareness and much needed funds to carry out its initiatives in underserved communities. Thanks to sponsors like Pullman and Comley, Community Health Network of Connecticut, People’s United Bank, People’s United Insurance Agency, Diamond Properties, Stamford Hospital, NovaMed, Stein/Troost Architecture, Quest Diagnostics and the generous attendees, the Chefs Challenge raised more than $18,000 for the Optimus Foundation.


"Our goal was to continue an annual fundraiser that emphasizes good health through great cuisine," said Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Health Care. “I’d like to thank our sponsors, guests, Lincoln Culinary Institute and especially the master chefs for such an amazing evening. I can’t wait to taste next year’s entries."




Posted September , 2014

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Posted October 7, 2013

Celebrating Care and Cuisine at the 3rd Annual Connecticut Chefs Challenge


On Sunday September 29, guests sampled "Cuisine for a Cause" from some of Fairfield County's finest chefs at the Third Annual Connecticut Chefs Challenge.

Held at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton, CT from 2 pm – 5 pm and hosted by TV and Radio Personality David Smith (Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders”), the evening started with a cocktail hour, silent auction, raffle, a relish demostration by Mariah's Relish and wine tasting, complete with music.

Competing restaurants included Metric Bar & Grill, Sweet Magnolia Cafe and Ripka's Cafe. There were additional contests for Lincoln Culinary Institute and Bullard-Haven Technicial High School. As one student said, “An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often - these chefs are amazing.”

While up close and personal, visitors had the opportunity to discuss recipes as they sample the chefs’ creations. Guests voted for their favorite dishes, as a panel of professional and celebrity chef judges will award “Best in Presentation" and "Best Overall Judge Choice."

Event Organizer Natalie Pryce said, "We had great chefs competing with outstanding menus, several wonderful sponsors, a terrific host, beautiful music, fabulous wine tastings, super volunteers, supportive guests and a gorgeous day. Who can ask for anything more?"

Thanks to Co-Sponsors Pullman and Comley and Community Health Network of Connecticut, Partnership Sponsors People’s United Bank and Stamford Hospital, Community Sponsor Henry Schein, Supporting Sponsors Laurel House, Sacred Heart University, Robert D. Russo, MD & Associates Radiology, St. Vincent's Hospital, and the generous attendees.

“I’d like to thank our sponsors, guests, Lincoln Culinary Institute and especially the master chefs for such an amazing evening," said Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Health Care. "I can’t wait to taste next year’s entries.”





Posted October 9, 2013




Posted September 27, 2013

Cooking for a Cause:
3 Days Left until the Connecticut Chef’s Challenge


On September 29, the Optimus Foundation welcomes back the culinary event of the season, the Third Annual Connecticut Chefs Challenge presented by Pullman & Comley and Community Health Network of Connecticut!

Held at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton, CT from 2 pm – 5 pm and hosted by TV and Radio Personality David Smith (Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders”), the evening will start with a cocktail hour, silent auction, raffle, a relish demostration by Mariah's Relish and wine tasting complete with music.

Registered restaurants include Metric Bar & Grill, Sweet Magnolia Cafe and Ripka's Cafe. As a special bonus, there will be additional contests for Lincoln Culinary Institute and Bullard-Haven Technicial High School. As one student said, “An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often - these chefs are amazing.”

In a unique twist on the tradition cooking contest, guests wills tour the kitchens and meet some of Fairfield County’s finest chefs as they create their signature dishes. While up close and personal, visitors will have the opportunity to discuss recipes as they sample the chefs’ creations.

Guests will vote for their favorite dishes, as a panel of professional and celebrity chef judges will award “Best in Presentation" and "Best Overall Judge Choice" as Fairfield County’s finest chefs put their recipes to the test! Thanks to Co-Sponsors Pullman and Comley and Community Health Network of Connecticut, Partnership Sponsors People’s United Bank and Stamford Hospital, Community Sponsor Henry Schein, Supporting Sponsors Laurel House, Sacred Heart University, Robert D. Russo, MD & Associates Radiology, St. Vincent's Hospital, and the generous attendees, the Chefs Challenge expects to exceed the $20,000 raised in 2012 for the Optimus Foundation.

“It’s this kind of support that helps us continue to build on our core capacity and capability to deliver essential primary health care services to our community” said Ludwig Spinelli, CEO, Optimus Health Care.




Posted December 10, 2012




Posted October 1, 2012

Winners Announced in the Connecticut Chefs Challenge

(Front row, Left to Right: Chef Mona John, Chef Lynette
Rosenberger, Chef Tony and Chef Pietro Scotti, Back Row:
Host David Smith, Chef Pierre-Andre Desruisseaux, Chef
Christopher Molyneux and Chef David Eccleston)

Last Saturday evening more than 120 guests sampled "Cuisine for a Cause" from some of Fairfield County's finest chefs at the Second Annual Connecticut Chefs Challenge.

Held at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton, CT and hosted by TV and Radio Personality David Smith (Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders”), the evening started with a cocktail hour with hors d'ouevres prepared and served by Lincoln Culinary students, a silent auction, and wine tasting provided by Jones Farms Winery and Greenfield Liquor Shop complete with music from the Gary Ruggiero jazz combo.

Chef contestants hailed from Cook and Grow, DaPietro’s, Metric Bar & Grill, One-of-a-Kind Catering, Sweet Magnolia and the Trumbull Marriott. Guests were invited to tour the kitches and sample the chefs' creations as the meals were prepared before their eyes. As one student said, “An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often - these chefs are amazing.” Guests voted for their favorite dishes, as a panel of professional and celebrity chef judges awarded “Best Appetizer,” “Best Entrée” and “Best Dessert.”

A luminary panel of three judges: Chef Jerry Revron, Chef Director at The Taft School, Chef Daniel Lestrud of the Lincoln Culinary Institute and Chef Peter Del Franco of Avellino's in Fairfield and the 2011 Winner, made their decisions based on a lengthy criteria list which included taste, originality and presentation. The judges awarded Best Entrée to Chef Pietro Scotti for his Ravioli del Pastore. This entry also received the People’s Choice Award, garnering the most votes by the guests in attendance.

Other winners included Chef Lynette Rosenberger for her Bread Pudding with Rum sauce and Chef Christopher Molyneux for his Black fish with seared sea scallops ceviche, Haas avocados puree and black sea salt foam.

Event Organizer Gail Solis was thrilled with the turnout, "We had six great chefs competing with outstanding menus, several wonderful sponsors, a terrific host, beautiful music, fabulous wine tastings, super volunteers, supportive guests and a gorgeous day. Who can ask for anything more?"

The Connecticut Chefs Challenge was sponsored by Pullman and Comley, Community Health Network of Connecticut, People’s United Bank, Henry Schein Medical, Viking Construction, Bridgeport Hospital, Base Technologies, Drapp and Jaumann Attorneys at Law, the Connecticut Post, Bishop, Jackson & Kelly LLC, Pep Lacey and Securitas Security Systems.

“I’d like to thank our sponsors, guests, Lincoln Culinary Institute and especially the master chefs for such an amazing evening," said Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Health Care. "I can’t wait to taste next year’s entries.”




Posted September 27, 2011

Winners Announced In The Connecticut Chefs Challenge

(From left: Optimus Health Care CEO Ludwig Spinelli,
Chef Peter DelFranco, and Optimus Foundation Event
Chairman Collin Baron. (Wayne Ratzenberger))

It all came down to three dishes: braised beef short ribs with homemade ravioli stuffed with trumpet royale and oyster mushrooms, coriander encrusted seared tuna with a medley of fermented heart of palm and heirloom greens and crab infused with an exquisite Jack Daniels inspired sauce over pappardelle pasta. More than 120 guests sampled these dishes at the Connecticut Chefs Challenge at the Lincoln Culinary Institute last Saturday evening.

The inaugural fundraiser was held by the Optimus Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for Optimus Health Care, Inc. a leading network of community-based clinics offering affordable health care in Bridgeport, Stamford and Stratford. The chef finalists came from Fairfield County, and all of the hors d’oeuvres were made of locally produced ingredients. “Our goal was to not only bring the best chefs from our area but also offer guests gourmet samplings such as cheeses and appetizers made from the freshest products from our very own area”, said Chef Gary Costa, Culinary Program Manager for Lincoln Culinary Institute.

Chef Costa also honored three of the Institute’s top culinary students by allowing them to work alongside each of the night’s master chefs in the competition. As one student put it, “An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often - these chefs are amazing.”

“From the jazz music, to the wines, the chefs creations and student offerings, everything blended so well in such a great setting.” said Tom Hill, Optimus Chief Operating Officer.

The driving force of the evening was the genuine admiration and respect each of the chefs had for each other. “To be competing against Pierre of Metric and Peter of Avellino’s is a great honor and one that will bring the best out of our team,” said Massimo Tobacco of Amici Mei Italian Café in Bridgeport.

In an innovative move concocted by the event organizers, guests were allowed not only to enter each chef’s kitchen space but were also invited to discuss the recipes. “What a fantastic idea,” said event chairman Collin Baron, “To be able to eat such great food, just as it’s coming off the stove and then share your thoughts with a top chef is truly amazing!” A luminary panel of three judges: Chef Jerry Revron, Chef Director at The Taft School, Chef Daniel Lestrud, Center for Culinary Arts and Chef Gary Costa of Lincoln Culinary Institute made their decisions based on a lengthy criteria list which included taste, originality and presentation. The judges awarded Best Entrée to Peter DelFranco from Avellino’s of Fairfield for his braised beef short ribs with homemade ravioli. This entry also received the People’s Choice Award, garnering the most votes by the guests in attendance.

In the category of Best Appetizer, the judges award went to Chef Pierre Andre Desruisseaux of Metric Bar & Grill in Bridgeport for what many guests described as the best tuna they have ever eaten. “I began thinking of what would be a spice that many people have not tried with seared tuna,” shared Chef Pierre Andre. “I chose coriander because of its unique character. I was so pleased to see how many people loved it.”

Chef Daniel Lestrud, one of the evening’s judges, was impressed with the entries. “This was a very difficult competition to judge. Each entry had its own uniqueness and on its own would be an enviable signature dish in any restaurant.” “Our goal was to launch an annual fundraiser that emphasizes good health through great cuisine,” said Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Health Care. “I’d like to thank our sponsors, guests, Lincoln Culinary Institute and especially the master chefs for such an amazing evening. I can’t wait to taste next year’s entries.”

Through the Connecticut Chefs Challenge, the Optimus Foundation hopes to raise awareness and much needed funds to carry out its initiatives in underserved communities. Thanks to sponsors like Pullman and Comley, Henry Schein Medical, JP Morgan Chase, Quest Diagnostics, Viking Construction, Noble Americas, Community Health Network of Connecticut and Slavin’s Professional Pharmacy as well as the generous attendees, the Chefs Challenge raised nearly $20,000 for the Optimus Foundation.


Posted September 26, 2011




Posted August 16, 2011

Chefs Challenge Commercial

 

 

Posted June 24, 2011:

Save the Date!

The Inaugural Connecticut Chefs Challenge 2011. September 24, 2011

You be the judge as Connecticut’s finest Chefs put their recipes to the test!

To benefit the Optimus Foundation’s mission to construct and maintain medical facilities throughout Fairfield County for communities in need.

 

 

 

Posted September 12, 2011:

Chefs Fired Up!

The final round of chef selections concluded with what promises to be one of the most competitive challenges in Connecticut culinary history. Connecticut Chefs Challenge, a unique fundraiser for the Optimus Foundation is this year’s top gastronomic event. The inaugural contest centers on several Connecticut chefs from such diverse establishments as the Brownson Country Club in Shelton to the ever-popular Amici Miei bistro in Bridgeport. The event to be held the evening of September 24, 2011 will be hosted by the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton.

 

The chefs selected for the event are:

 

Biagio Barone, GotChef.com

Jason Bentley, Chef Instructor, Lincoln Culinary Institute

Rachel Devendittis, Dev’s on Bank Street, New London

Wayne Kregling, Brownson Country Club, Shelton

Richard Moore, Coasters Tap & Grill, Shelton

Massimo Tabacco, Amici Miei, Bridgeport

 

Gary Costa, Culinary Program Manager at Lincoln Culinary Institute puts it succinctly, “This is truly an amazing group of master chefs. We’re proud to be the host venue for such an exciting event.”

Each chef will prepare a signature dish that will be reviewed by a panel of judges comprised of members from the NY and CT Chef’s Associations. Top honors will be awarded in the categories of best appetizer, best entrée, and top chef. Guests at the fundraiser will also vote for the People’s Choice. The evening will also feature culinary samplings from a select group of Lincoln Culinary students not participating in the challenge but drawing inspiration from the event.

 

“Our goal is to launch an annual fundraiser that emphasizes good health through great cuisine,” says Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Health Care, Inc. “I can think of no better way than an exciting evening where guests can sample the very best that Connecticut has to offer.”

 

The Optimus Foundation helps support the fund raising efforts of Optimus Health Care, Inc. a leading network of community-based clinics offering affordable health care in the cities of Bridgeport, Stamford and Stratford. Through the Connecticut Chefs Challenge, the Optimus Foundation hopes to raise awareness and much needed funds to carry out its initiatives in underserved communities.

 

“This is one event you won’t want to miss,” says Thomas Hill, Optimus Health Care Chief Operating Officer. “Great food, stellar wines and a live music ensemble - it promises to be the top of event of the fall season.”

 

There are still a limited amount of tickets available for the event. The tax-deductible tickets can be purchased by calling (203) 576-3888 or by visiting the Chefs Challenge website: www.ctchefschallenge.com.