by Tina Armour

“Whose cuisine reigned supreme?”

All of the contenders in the 8th annual Celebrity Chef Challenge brought their ‘A’ game and amazed the judges and crowd with their culinary talent.

Judges , 2009 challenge winner, Adam Pehal, Regional Vice President Wells Fargo Foundation, Chevo Ramierez, food and wine blogger, Charlotte King, and News 10’s Bryan May, sat with satisfaction on their faces as they were served succulent dish after dish.

“The judges reactions are like little kids at Christmas,” said Sacramento and Company’s Melissa Crowley, emcee for the night. “Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. I love watching the chefs brainstorm.”

Hundreds of people came out to the California Auto Museum to eat, drink and raise money for InAlliance, a nonprofit foundation providing employment placement and life and work skills training to people with disabilities.

“The turnout was fantastic, much bigger than last year, it has a better set up and seems to be a lot more fun,” said co-emcee Sacramento and Company’s Guy Farris.

As the chefs competed the crowd was treated to 100 food and wine vendors from around California.

“It’s been fun to watch the live cooking and eat all the chocolate and the cars are cool too,” said first time attendee Jessica Jelich.

A favorite among attendees, Mount Aukum Winery, drew crowds by the dozens.

“I’ve loved talking to all of the people. This has been good exposure for our winery,” said first time vendor, assistant wine maker for Mount Aukum Winery, William Dishman.

The chefs weren’t the only ones receiving awards. The crowd favorites among the vendors received awards as well. In third place Seamas Sweets and Sours took $2,500, Degans Fine Catering took second place and $5,000 and Markstein Beverage Company took the first place prize of $10,000.

After a tense wait the winner of the challenge was Russel Michel of Central Valley Bistro at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento.

Chef Q of Chef Q for hire gracefully took third place and chef instructor for American River College’s culinary arts program, Teresa Urkofsky took second place.

“We came so that we can let the community know that we are here for them,” said Michel. “ InAlliance is a great organization and I want to help those who want to help themselves. Life is too short you have to live for the moment.”

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