Sponsorships & Events

Talented Teen Chefs Battle with Maple Syrup

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 10.47.18 AMFive talented teen chefs will compete in First County Bank’s Teen Chefs Challenge event at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center during this year’s Maple Sugar Festival Weekend held on March 4 and 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Saturday, March 4, the teen chefs will compete in an exciting competition to create the best-tasting recipe, using maple syrup as an ingredient. This year marks the 17th anniversary of First County Bank sponsoring this family festival highlighting the New England tradition of maple sugaring.

On Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Lillian (Lilly) Roman of Easton, Isabelle Braten of Wilton, Vanessa Romano of Stamford, Shannon Lyons of Stamford and Connor Turpin of Greenwich are scheduled to battle it out in the kitchen at the Main House, Bendel Mansion.

The teen chefs will present their culinary creations for the public and celebrity judges to sample. Judging will be conducted with the winner declared by popular vote and by a panel of celebrity judges: Rey Giallongo, Chairman and CEO, First County Bank; Karen Kelly, Senior Vice President, First County Bank; Jim Calkins, Executive Chef and Owner, Seasonal Catering; Rylie Walker, the 2016 winner of the First County Bank Teen Chefs Challenge. The winning chef and recipe will be announced at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Maple Sugar House.

“The First County Bank Chefs Challenge is a highlight of the Maple Sugar Festival Weekend,” said Robert Granata, COO and President, First County Bank. “The Maple Sugar Festival provides an excellent opportunity for these young chefs to showcase their culinary abilities and further develop their talent. Maple syrup, of course, is the key ingredient that each teen chef needs to incorporate into their dishes for the public and celebrity judges to taste and judge. We appreciate each of the teen chef’s contributions to the entertainment and look forward to a weekend full of great food, fun, learning and old-fashioned New England traditions.”

About the Chefs

Lillian (Lilly) Roman, 16                                               

Joel Barlow High School, 11th grade

Easton, CT

Lilly is entering the competition because “I really enjoy baking and hope to make a career out of it. This would be a good experience for my first steps in becoming a professional baker.” Her competition recipe will be banana maple bread pudding with maple cream sauce topped with maple whipped cream and a maple glazed banana chip.

Isabelle Braten, 13

Middlebrook School, 8th grade

Wilton, CT

Isabelle has been cooking and baking with family and friends since she was 5 years old. Not only does Isabelle cook for her family every day, she is always baking special treats for friends and teachers at school. Isabelle has learned various techniques from taking cooking lessons and watching her favorite cooking shows on The Food Network. When Isabelle is not in the kitchen you can find her playing the flute, laughing with friends or ballroom dancing.

Vanessa Romano, 13

Rippowam Middle School, 8th grade

Stamford, CT

“I love to bake and cook, but baking is my favorite.  I love to try different recipes and sometimes add a little something new to a recipe for a change.  Sugar cookies are my favorite since I was a little girl. I also love the way a house smells after you’ve baked.” Vanessa plans to make maple syrup sugar cookies shaped like leaves for the competition.

Shannon Lyons, 16

J.M. Wright Technical High School, 10th grade

Stamford, CT

Shannon has been baking with her mom and dad since she was in Kindergarten, when she started baking brownies for her birthday to take to school. “I think participating in the Teen Chefs Challenge would be a wonderful opportunity to further my culinary skills.  I look forward to creating a recipe and developing it to create the best taste and flavor profile.” When Shannon is not in the kitchen baking, she loves reading, volunteering with K-2nd graders and learning American Sign Language (PSE).

Connor Turpin, 15

J.M. Wright Technical High School, 10th grade

Greenwich, CT

Connor has been cooking and baking with his dad since he was 10 years old. Now he enjoys baking many different foods. “I would like to participate in the Teen Chefs Challenge because it sounds like a fun event and will give me the opportunity to showcase my kitchen skills.” When he is not creating treats in the kitchen, he plays ice hockey and works at the ice rink in Greenwich.

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