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Benchmark Chefs Sweep 2017 CALA Chef Challenge

Benchmark Chefs Sweep 2017 CALA Chef Challenge

Benchmark Senior Living chefs faced off against the best chefs in senior living at the Connecticut Assisted Living Association’s (CALA) Chef Challenge in March. A panel of professional chefs evaluated the contestants on elements such as creativity, taste, presentation and nutritional balance. When the judges had their final say, Benchmark chefs had captured first place in all three categories:

Chicken: Chef Micheal Rock of The Village at Buckland Court

Chef Micheal Rock showcased his masterful skill with his winning chicken dish: Whiskey Caramel Planked Chicken, Jalapeno-Corn Pudding, Shaved Brussels and Pork Belly Slaw.

Chef Micheal Rock showcased his masterful skill with his winning chicken dish: Whiskey Caramel Planked Chicken, Jalapeno-Corn Pudding, Shaved Brussels and Pork Belly Slaw.

Beef: Chef Toni Gaites of Benchmark Senior Living at Split Rock

Chef Toni Gaites won the beef category with her culinary masterpiece: Yakitori Style Teres Major, Pistachio Gastrique, Ashed Fruit Wood Potato, Baby Bok Choy and Tri-Colored Carrots.

Chef Toni Gaites won the beef category with her culinary masterpiece: Yakitori Style Teres Major, Pistachio Gastrique, Ashed Fruit Wood Potato, Baby Bok Choy and Tri-Colored Carrots.

Seafood: Chef Leyn Aliaga of Benchmark Senior Living of Hamden

Seafood winner chef Leyn Aliaga with his decadent Sweet Butter-Poached Prawns and Crispy Prosciutto, Bluefoot Mushroom and Marble Potato.

Seafood winner chef Leyn Aliaga with his decadent Sweet Butter-Poached Prawns and Crispy Prosciutto, Bluefoot Mushroom and Marble Potato.

This was the third CALA Chef Challenge, and the first time one team captured all three prizes. But it’s no surprise given Benchmark’s culinary passion and previous showings. In the 2015 Chef Challenge, Benchmark chefs placed first in the seafood category, second in beef and third in chicken. In 2016, Benchmark chefs were first in beef and first in chicken. On the sweet side, Benchmark won the 2014 CALA Cupcake Challenge.

Regional Director of Dining Services Mike Eckrote, says “What an amazing show. Toni Gaites showed tremendous confidence in the spotlight. Our new Benchmark team member, Mike Rock, simply rocked it. Leyn Aliaga worked the crowd like a celebrity chef. And our coaches, chef Adam Lewis of Carriage Green at Milford and chef Russ Camolli of Benchmark Senior Living at Split Rock, were amazing and adventurous. I cannot express how grateful I am to work with such a great group of culinary professionals.”

 

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