In this Case, ‘Almost’ is Good Enough

-By John Lynds

East Boston Chef Anthony Messina

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East Boston has always been known for its cuisine and now it’s producing some talented chefs. One of those Eastie chefs has just won the top prize during the New England Regional S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition.

Last week, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts student and Eastie resident, Anthony Messina, prepared his signature dish during a fast-paced, high-pressure cooking competition to win the title.

Messina showcased his culinary expertise before assembled celebrity chef judges and local media judges. The judges awarded Anthony the coveted title and the rare chance to compete at the Finals Competition to be held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in Napa Valley, CA from March 11-14.

During the intense competition, Messina performed with confidence while competing against seven fellow culinary students representing his alma mater, the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.  Messina impressed the panel of judges with his creative signature dish recipe, Squab Breast with Parsnip Apple Puree, Smoked Chard, Foie Gras Emulsion, Ras El Hanout, Pistachios and Aril while remaining calm and taking their comments and advice to heart.

A rising culinary star, Messina accepted his title before an enthusiastic audience of local media, chefs and invited guests during the tasting reception.

Messina will be one of ten regional winners to be flown to the finals event in California in March where he will compete against nine other regional winners from across the United States and Canada during the three-day finals in front of a panel of food media, distinguished guests and renowned chefs.

The winner will take the title, up to $20,000 in prizes and a paid apprenticeship from one of the participating chef judges.

The Finals competition will be streamed live via the Almost Famous Chef website and Facebook page again this year. Fans can interact with the participating chefs and media, as well as each other to get all the updates and insider information during the competition.

“I am elated to have competed against fellow culinary students who have raised the bar in this competition,” said Messina. “I believe in my vision and my abilities and was excited to see the judge’s response to my dish. I took their comments to heart and will apply their advice in Napa.”

Messina served in the military and attended the Boston Police Academy before he pursued his dream of becoming a chef. A true East Bostonian, Messina has the accent and personality to take his culinary talents to the top.

The S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition is a program about mentorship. Renowned chef judges encourage the students and provide critical advice as these students pursue their careers. Competitors create elaborate dishes with many layers during the two-hour time period. Past winners of the New England competition are working in top restaurants like Ashmont Grill and the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.

Chef judges included Chef Chris Coombs of dbar, Chef Alan Archer of Nestlé Professional, Chef Mary Dumont of Harvest, Chef Chris Douglass of Ashmont Grill and Chef Benjamin Knack of The Lanam Club while local media judges included Nick Altschuller of The Improper Bostonian, Louisa Kasdon of, and Michael Prerau of

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