Winner, Winner, Congee Dinner

The cameras have stopped filming. The chef coats are back on the rack. The judges have made their choices.

Yes, another S&D Culinary Challenge is in the books — and another talented Johnson & Wales Charlotte student joins the ranks of winners.

Earning first place honors for 2016 is Chainey Kuykendall.

Chainey

A junior from Mount Airy, North Carolina, Chainey made the top 20 in last year’s competition but felt that this year’s “Carolinas Cookin’” theme played to her strengths. “[This year’s theme] was easier for someone like me, with a mixed background, to put my experience into a dish.”

Chainey’s unique background, with Southern and Filipino roots, inspired her winning dish: Cheerwine and coffee-marinated beef ribs with sweet potato and congee mixture, topped with sweet potato chips, which she called “Cheerful Blend of Carolina.”

Cheerful Blend of Carolina

Judges were impressed with her plate — noting the depth of the flavors and “East meets West combination of the traditional Asian porridge with the sweet potato, a Southern staple.

Assisting Chainey on her road from finalist to winner was her chef mentor, Cody Suddreth, executive chef at The King’s Kitchen & Bakery. In this role, Chef Suddreth helped her polish her culinary and presenting skills in preparation for the final competition.

For taking home the top prize, Chainey earns $5,000 and Chef Suddreth is rewarded with an additional $5,000 for the charity of his choice.

His $5,000 winnings will go to support his restaurant, which is a non-profit itself, and the restaurant’s work with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center. Established in 2010, The King’s Kitchen is managed by Jim Noble Restaurants and donates 100% of profits from sales to feed the poor in the Charlotte region.

Additionally, The King’s Kitchen partners with the Dream Center and other local area ministries to provide job-training, life-skills training, social etiquette workshops, financial management guidance and employment intern opportunities to Charlotteans in search of a new beginning.

As for Chainey? She’s gifting the $5,000 to her mother, so she can take a trip back to the Philippines.

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Learn more about Chainey and Cody — and see all of the finalists’ recipes, video interviews and photos from the event — on the S&D Facebook page.