Chef Xavier Santiago Crowned '86'd' Culinary Champion

Xavier Santiago, chef de cuisine at Manchester’s Trattoria Toscana, has been named the grand champion winner of the 86’d Culinary Collision competition series.

Santiago battled against Max Downtown’s Chris Sheehan in the finale matchup Monday at Zohara in West Hartford, using four mystery ingredients to create multiple dishes for a panel of judges. Judges chose Santiago based on his creations’ originality, flavor, plating, as well as the cleanliness of his chef’s station.

The series of friendly battles began in February, as 16 total chefs faced off in late-night head-to-head competitions that stretched through the summer. Victorious chefs continued to semi-final and final rounds.

Other participating chefs included Van Hurd of Taino Smokehouse, David Awad of Present Company; Tim Marotto of GoldBurgers, Hunter Morton of Max Oyster Bar, KC Ward of Rooster Co., Craig Hutchinson of OINK, Dante Paul Cistulli of Savoy, Eric Stagl of Craftbird, Alex Lishchynsky of Caseus and OINK, Roy Riedl of Mercado and El Pollo Guapo, Renee Touponce, formerly of Firebox Restaurant, Niles Talbot of Millwright’s Restaurant, April Gibson of The North House and John Brennan of Elm City Social.

The 86’d battle series was planned and executed by Eat IN Connecticut, Scott Miller of DORO Restaurant Group, Hunter Morton of Max’s Oyster Bar, Cheyney Barrieau, and Dante Paul Cistulli of Savoy Pizzeria & Craft Bar.

Ticket sales benefited End Hunger Connecticut!, and the 86’d team intends to donate about $10,000 to the statewide anti-hunger and food security organization, say Kristen Fritz and Jeannette Dardenne of Eat IN Connecticut.

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