Chef André Gainer (Luna Rossa) edged out competing chefs, Brian Bender (David’s Soundview Catering) and Zachariah Campion (Bailey’s Backyard) to win the Battle of the Chefs, a fund-raising event to benefit life-long learning at Founders Hall. In just 60 minutes, the three chefs opened ingredient baskets containing frenched pork rack, Shirakiku fresh pickled ginger (both courtesy of The Chefs’ Warehouse), kohlrabi (sourced from Whole Foods), and rhubarb (from local growers), and then competed to create a winning entrée as the audience cheered them on. After praising all the chefs for their skills, ingenuity and creativity, the judges, John Barricelli (SoNo Baking Company and Café), Amy Kundrat (CTBites) and Brendan Walsh (Culinary Institute of America), awarded the trophy to Gainer for his for his grilled pork atop saffron risotto, drizzled with rhubarb puree and garnished with slivered kohlrabi and pickled ginger, noting the entrée as “a fabulous plate” with “bold, well-married flavors” in a “classical presentation.”

In addition to the entrée competition, all three chefs created appetizers using Point Reyes blue cheese, as well as desserts for the event. Campion’s sweet and savory appetizer that paired the blue cheese with a pecan sablé, wild mushroom mousse and smoked cherry compote, won the appetizer round, which was voted on by both judges and guests.

The Battle of the Chefs, sponsored by Fairfield County Bank and The Chefs’ Warehouse, raised $48,000 for Founders Hall, a donor-supported education and recreation center for people age 60 and older. In addition to support from the three chefs and their businesses, the event received broad support from local businesses and sponsors. For more information on Founders Hall, go to