Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (With Food)


Restaurants may be dominated by male chefs but it’s the females that are making a name for themselves in the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, a Baltimore-area live “Top Chef” type tournament that’s taking place at the Belvedere. The notable female chefs are Melissa Fordham of The Grill at Harryman House and Sarah Mogol of the Bountiful Experience.

Fordham, Executive Co-Chef at The Grill at Harryman House and Executive Chef Consultant at Rafael’s in Westminster, Maryland, is a native of Baltimore. In addition to serving at the Harryman House for over 10 years, Melissa spends her free time teaching culinary arts at Carroll Community College. Recently, Chef Fordham tried out for the Next Food Network Star and placed in the top 20 in the Washington, D.C. tryouts.

Fordham won the judges over in round one with her appetizer of almond dusted sea scallop with a melange of snow peas, fennel and cherries finished with a white balsamic and bacon cream, an entree of morel crusted rack of lamb with a leek, asparagus and potato hash, red wine veal jus and truffle oil drizzle, and a dessert of cranberry stilton mousse with candied pistachios and orange reduction.

Owner and Executive Chef of the Bountiful Experience, Sarah Mogol, is a self-taught chef originally from New York’s Hudson Valley. She has been a professional caterer for seven years and has developed several cooking classes for local organizations. When Sarah isn’t busy catering events or with cooking classes, she’s sharing her “love of fresh ingredients, flavor and food that makes you feel great” with local news outlets.

Mogol took her first round competition with an appetizer of seared scallops with blueberry and shallot compote over fresh spinach tossed with kiwi and shallot vinaigrette with a crostini, an entree of pesto marinated rack of lamb seared and topped with fresh bread crumbs, lemon zest and basil served with calamari orzo tossed with orange zest, minced mint, basil and parsley and shitake sauteed with shallot/onion wine and cream with candied tomatoes, and a dessert of pate choux with hazelnut and almond praline pastry cream.

You can catch these top ladies in action during the second round of the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament at the Belvedere in downtown Baltimore. Fordham competes on Tuesday, July 27 and Mogol on Monday, August 2. Tickets can be purchased online at and include a gourmet meal prepared by Chef Timothy Dore of Truffles Catering followed by the live chef competition.

Details on chefs competing in round two, by-weeks due to holidays, and ticket options can be found at You can also follow the tournament’s latest information on Twitter, @MDMasterChef, and Facebook.

Posted 7/22/10.