Chef Carmin Viola, Rising Chef of the Year. *Photo supplied
Chef Carmin Viola, Rising Chef of the Year. *Photo supplied

SATURDAY, NOV. 10: A tasty trilogy of grilled, smoky and stuffed flank steaks has earned chef Carmin Viola of Newport Gastropub the coveted title of Rising Chef of the Year.

Chef Viola of The Newport Gastropub at Fairmont was overwhelmed with joy as she accepted the prize at the Bermuda Hospitality Institute’s fundraising event last night.

On accepting her prize she said to the evening’s host chef Teneika Eve, a chef lecturer at Bermuda College, that it was better not to cook with a heavy heart but with rather with a whole heart.  

She beat scores of young chefs to the top prize which will see her jet off to New York with other chefs from Bermuda in one of the major locations for meat procurement to visit DeBragga and Spitler. Her other prizes included a fine red wine, a crystal decanter and vouchers for Lindo’s and International Imports, where the contest was held.

She was up against chef Adam de la Cruz from Bacci, Fairmont Southampton, chef Trevor Kilaman, Ocean Club, Fairmont Southampton and chef Takemore Mukazika, Harley’s Restaurant, Fairmont Hamilton Princess – the finalists from a total of 12 participants.

Viola cooked up a mix of flank steaks - grilled, smoked flank steak and shitake mushrooms with caramelized cranberries and pan seared stuffed flank steak. They were served with a squash puree beef involtini (roll ups) with shitake mushroom and tomato ragout, sweet dumpling squash fondant and shitake mushroom fondant mille-feuille (stack).

She chopped and prepared all her ingredients right there in front of us whereas others had some of their food readily prepared. She also appeared entirely focused on the task in hand giving mainly one-worded answers to chef Eve’s questions.

Viola, originally from the Philippines, told the Bermuda Sun: “I think everybody really worked hard for it and I believe that their dish is as good as mine, it’s just that we have different styles.

“It helped a lot for being able to do everything from scratch with a very complicated plate. The only thing that was on my mind was that I had to have the dish done in time and have my meat 10 minutes before the time so I can rest it properly.

“The only thing that was going through my mind at that time was ‘let it be’ and I owe a lot him (God). I’m really thankful. He is my co-pilot, my motivator, my supporter, my life.

“When my name was called I was speechless all I could think of was to hug the most supportive and most inspiring chef which is my Sous chef - chef Kellie (Rolfe). I was a little bit teary-eyed because I didn’t expect anything. I think that it is because of my character, it is just humility you have to keep humble all the time – I don’t want to let it go to my head. This has made me a better person with better skills. This competition taught me a lot - it taught me discipline, it taught me camaraderie and it also taught me hard work. My sous chef taught me how to do extraordinary things I am so grateful to her and the team that continues to support me at the Newport Rooms.”

Judges chef Leo Betschart, Keevil ‘The Captain’ Burgess and John Harvey said the competition was tight.

In second place was Chef Adam de la Cruz whose dish was A Taste of Italy – Dumpling squash ravioli with flank steak scaloppini, flank steak taglieatta and cranberry buerre blanc.

Chef Trevor Kilaman won a prize for Most Creative Gift with his Modern Silk Route – Asian BBQ beef, Orient cranberry glaze, golden egg sauce, lemongrass sticky rice, shiitake ragout, dumpling squash hash and jus.

Chef Takemore Mukazika was the Audience Favourite with his flame grilled flank steak with cranberry butter and ginger balsamic braised beef shiitake roll and crispy squash tobacco.

Bermuda Hospitality Institute’s CEO Karla Lacey thanked sponsors, in particular Gosling’s, Lindos and Butterfield and Vallis as well as International Imports for hosting the event