Round 2 – DING! Westport Farmers’ Market Chef-at-the-Market Competition

A year ago a light-hearted “what if” conversation between Bill Taibe – owner/chef of Jesup Hall, Kawi Ni, and The Whelk – and Lori Cochran-Dougall – executive director of the Westport Farmers’ Market –became the talk of the foodie circuit in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The Westport Farmers’ Market’s Chef-at-the-Market competition challenges our best chefs to a cookoff on a budget ($20).

“The ‘Chef-at-the-Market Competition’ showcases what the Westport Farmers’ Market is all about - utilizing and supporting our local producers, “ said Bill Taibe, chair/organizer of the WFM program. “It’s also a festive way for chefs to get in front of their customers in a hands-on quick competition. Plus, let’s admit it-competition is fun!”

The competition works like this: Beginning May 30 and thereafter on the third Thursday of every month through October, three chefs from local restaurants compete. Each gets $20 and 45 minutes to shop from vendors at the market plus create an appetizer-sized dish.

Volunteer judges, selected at random from shoppers that day, will select one winner who will move on to the next round. The top two chefs from the semi-final round will meet at the final competition in October where and when to be announced.  

Chef contestants will be judged on:

1.      Their use of market products

2.      Taste of the dish

3.      Cleanliness and presentation of their entry, and

4.      Originality of recipe  

Participants – all of whom volunteered are:

1.      Jeff Taibe, Taproot (2018 Champion)

2.      Anthony Kostelis, The Whelk

3.      Anthony Rinaldi, Kawa Ni

4.      Dan Kardos, Oar & Oak/Liberty Rock Tavern

5.      Jes Bengston, Terrain

6.      Ben Freemole, The Inn & GrayBarns

7.      Emily Mingrone, Tavern on State

8.      Adam Roytman, BarSugo

9.      Jay LeBlanc, Knot Norm’s

10.  Carlos Baez, The Spread/El Segundo

11.  Matt Storch, Match/Match Burger & Lobster

12.  David Guimareas, Milestone

“This competition is brilliant!” said Lori Cochran-Dougall. “Our food community looks for ways to connect and this one happens to support the market – which I love. It is fun and the competition gets steep. Personally, I love how excited the viewers get and the questions that stem from the event - not to mention they do all of this for $20.”

The first competition will be held May 30 from 10:15 – 11:00 at the WFM. Bring your family and friends, and root for your favorite local restauranteur!


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