Four local cooking pros finalists in ‘Favorite Chef’ competition

Four people from the Mahoning Valley are giving it their all to sautee their way to the top in an online competition. 

The competition is called “Favorite Chef,” where cooking extraordinaires from across the globe compete to be the world’s Favorite Chef of 2021.

They would receive $20,000 and be featured in a sponsored double-page spread in one of the largest cooking publications in the world.

The contestants include Bistro 1907 Owner Mark Canzonetta, Mahan Hospitality Group Owner David Mahan, Poland mom Julie Paine and Cockeye BBQ Owner Erik Hoover. 

Below is information on each of them from the Favorite Chef’s website. 

Mark Canzonetta – Bistro 1907, Youngstown

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING?

I’ve been cooking since I was four years old! I have been lucky to be able to cook in organized kitchens since I was 14 years old. My entire life has been shaped by food. And I’m proud to take everything I have learned over the years to create dishes that inspire nostalgia, while still offering new twists with bold flavors.

WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE DISH?

My personal favorite meal to enjoy and create is Pappardelle Bolognese; it just takes me back to a time in my life when Sundays were dedicated to food and family. To this day, our family tries to spend Sundays together, gathered around great food and drinks. It’s still the best way for me to decompress and to get back to what truly makes me happy.

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE $20,000?

I will use the money to create a Restaurant Incubator for aspiring restaurant owners, so they can nurture their restaurant concepts. It’s been a goal of mine for the last few years, and it’s finally time to make it a reality. I’ve had the opportunity to learn many lessons as a chef and restaurant owner– the hard way. It would bring me great joy to share what I have learned with others in order to make their paths easier. And, I will continue to learn along with them! It’s win-win!

To vote for Mark Canzonetta, click here

David Mahan – Mahan Hospitality Group

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING?

Since I could stand in a stool at my great grandmother’s. Cooking is in my family. From fried chicken with Grandma to rolling gnocchi with my Uncle.

WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE DISH?

I can’t say I have a “signature”. One day it’s northern Italian, next it’s Asian, then Vegetarian. Whatever hits me

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE $20,000?

I would say that I would donate the money into my community. They could use it to set up a foundation to feed kids whose families are struggling.

To vote for David Mahan, click here.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING?

I wish I could say I grew up cooking in a big kitchen with family but the truth is, my Nana made meals crispy and my Pops prepped TV dinners.  I found my passion by navigating an autism diagnosis with my 2-year-old daughter (now 5).  I didn’t realize how good my cooking was until I shared the kitchen with my nonverbal daughter.  It’s the way we communicate and enjoy fresh foods.  Cooking isn’t just throwing something together after work- it’s love.

WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE DISH?

Most would say it’s my classic cheesy, noodley lasagna but my personal favorite is my red pepper and almond crusted pork chop with a side of bacon-wrapped pineapple.  I enjoy garden-to-kitchen dishes and sharing with neighbors and friends.

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE $20,000?

My goal is to open a sensory-friendly kitchen to help families living with autism.  Nutrition, taste, textures and smells is such a challenge for these families.  This kitchen model will provide opportunities for speech and occupational therapies and chances to explore by color and touch.  It’s about building confidence in the kitchen.

To vote for Julie Paine, click here.

Erik Hoover – Cockeye Barbeque, Warren is also a finalist. He posted on his Facebook page:

To vote for Erik Hoover, click here

Janelle B. Smith

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