The Ingles Table, an online content series which highlights recipes and rising culinary talent, filmed its “Holiday Homecoming” program at A-B Tech’s Asheville campus on Nov. 14, donating $5,000 to local nonprofit organizations at the event’s conclusion. The 30-minute episode followed four Ingles All Star chefs, each competing on behalf of a local charity, as they prepared holiday dishes in a head-to-head showdown.
“The chefs were excited about playing for charities, but there was certainly some true competitive spirit in the kitchens,” says A-B Tech communications specialist Martha Ball.
Each competitor had 90 minutes to prepare a meal with ingredients obtained from Ingles stores earlier that day. Judgment by nearly 20 student volunteers put chefs Stormy and Martin Mongiello (former executive chef to the Presidents of the United States and manager of Camp David) in first place with their eggnog chicken — a victory that secured a $3,500 donation for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The three remaining chefs’ charities also received donations from Ingles, in addition to a stipend for A-B Tech, according to Ball. Chef Derek St. Romain, executive chef at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, made sausage-stuffed chicken breast playing for Backyard Bow Pro. Gigi Stewart, publisher of Food Solutions magazine and blogger at glutenfreegigi.com, baked gluten-free cinnamon pull-apart bread playing for MANNA Food Bank. Lindsay Moore, author of food blog justalittleorganic.com, made vegan sweet potato casserole playing for Eblen Charities.
According to Ball, the event was free and open to the public, but primarily promoted amongst A-B Tech’s culinary students. The program will air on WLOS, local cable and inglestable.com later in the holiday season.
According to Ingles advertising director Melissa Leavell, A-B Tech was selected as the filming site based on the college’s exemplary culinary arts program. Ball, pleased with this decision, felt the experience added to students’ education.
“It was a great opportunity for our students to see professional chefs in competition mode,” says Ball. “Even though A-B Tech has a nationally ranked culinary team and culinary arts students are taught by some of the best chefs in the industry, they don’t always get to watch the pros go head to head.” At least 16 students took further advantage of the opportunity, volunteering to judge dishes at the event.