Schenectady resident Lance Gray won’t get to meet Mario Batali after all.
Gray had advanced to the Albany regional semifinals of the Hannaford Supermarkets and Mario Batali Home Chef Challenge with his family recipe for Limoncello Cake.
But Monday night, Todd Schillinger of Swanzey, New Hampshire, won the judges over with his Chicken New Hampshire dish.
Schillinger advances to the final round of the contest against regional winners from Burlington, Vermont, and Portland, Maine, for the chance to win the grand prize of an all-expenses-paid trip for two to New York City to attend a taping of ABC’s “The Chew,” meet Batali and have dinner at one of his acclaimed restaurants.
A recovering addict, Schillinger learned the dish from a local Italian restaurant during his first years of sobriety and found inspiration in the cooking process to continue his journey of living an alcohol- and drug-free life, according to a news release.
“I come from a recovery background. At one point in my life, someone took a chance on me. Today validates that it was worth it,” Schillinger said. “I’m overwhelmed by and appreciative of this opportunity.”
The Albany regional championship was held at the Hannaford store at 900 Central Ave. in Albany. The three Albany regional semifinalists were chosen based on their submission of a favorite, original recipe, their inspirational story about the recipe, and how the recipe can excite others about cooking at home.
Nancy Holzman of Glens Falls was the third semifinalist, preparing Zesty Tuscan Pasta Sauce. Each received a $100 Hannaford gift card and a gift basket.
“Hannaford is ecstatic to team up with chef Mario Batali, a culinary visionary who shares our passion for food, home cooking and hunger relief. We congratulate Todd on his victory, and each of the semifinalists on their delicious recipes, which really exemplify the joy of home cooking, and the inspirations surrounding culinary creations,” Hannaford President Mike Vail said. “We look forward to seeing who Mario selects as the winner.”
The grand-prize winner of the Mario Batali Home Chef Challenge, who will be personally selected by Batali, will be announced the week of Dec. 18. The first-prize winner will receive a $1,000 Hannaford gift card. The second prize winner will receive a $500 gift card.
For more information about the Mario Batali Home Chef Challenge, visit Hannaford.com/HomeChefChallenge.