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Maine Chef Challenge serves as tasty entertainment at EMCC

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Cooking competition raises funds for culinary arts program

BANGOR - Things have finally cooled down at Eastern Maine Community College following last month's Maine Chef Challenge, a one-night “Iron Chef”-style cooking competition that raises funds for the school's culinary arts program. The three chefs - Zac Maccarone of Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro in Ellsworth, Brandon Haney of Husson University Dining and Todd Chasteen of Flik Independent School Dining - found out moments before last month's competition they would have to incorporate a secret ingredient in at least one of their dishes.

"It was W.A. Bean & Sons red hot sausages," said Todd Chasteen, Flik executive chef. "We put it into our Cioppino, an Italian-style seafood stew. It was a no brainer to throw it in there." 

Before the stew, Chasteen whipped together a Johnny cake, a cornmeal pancake, made with sautéed Brussels sprouts and Raye's Mustard for the judges to eat. And for dessert, he created a brown sugar pound cake with a Backyard Beauty tomato and strawberry marmalade.

"There was some pressure being on the home team, since the company I work for is a third party contractor. We supply the food service on campus for the students," explained Chasteen. "But I was looking at it [the competition] as it was me on a personal level doing it."

And when it came to presentation, creativity and flavor, Chasteen won over the judges’ palates and their votes.

"It was pretty awesome. We had a good time," he said. 

Now Chasteen's Maine Chef Challenge Top Chef 2013 trophy sits atop his kitchen TV, a constant reminder of his hard work and contribution to the college's culinary arts program.

"We went out for celebratory drinks that night," Chasteen said. "Now it's back to work." 

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