(Newport Beach, CA October 21, 2008) In a surprise upset, the winner of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar’s Culinary Competition was the youngest and least experienced of the six culinary student finalists. Kevin Bui, 19, of Cypress and a freshman in Cypress College’s Hotel Restaurant Culinary Arts program, walked off the with the $5,000 first prize.In second place winning $3,000 was Corona del Mar resident Patrick DiGiacomo, 53, a student at Laguna Culinary Arts. Caitlin Knoop, 20, of San Clemente and enrolled in Orange Coast College’s Culinary Arts program, came in third, winning $2,000. As part of the restaurant’s tenth anniversary celebration, Fleming’s sponsored a culinary competition Saturday, October 18th, where six finalists created a two course menu utilizing Fleming’s core ingredients of jumbo shrimp, beef tenderloin, potatoes, mushrooms and spinach or asparagus. The 90 minute cook off was followed by a judging period where the dishes were evaluated on taste, creativity and plating. The three judges were Orange County Register food editor Cathy Thomas; celebrity chef and radio personality Jamie Gwen; and Fleming’s executive company chef Russell Skall.
Bui’s winning dishes were Gone Shrimpin: Shrimp served in a martini glass in an avocado salad with tomato, radish, lime, cilantro and red onion, garnished with a deep-fried green olive; and Je Ne Sais Quoi: Roasted beef tenderloin with cabernet sauvignon veal demi-glace sauce with mashed potatoes and spinach with bacon bits and shallots. Thomas described the dishes as irresistible.