2016 Vitamix Challenge

2016 Vitamix Challenge


The Vitamix Challenge

Congratulations to Cameron Hanin of Ma'Ono in Seattle, WA , who took home the Grand Prize, wowing the judges with his Tofu Agedashi: Tofu Pudding, Bonito Butter, Soy Puffed Rice, and Pickled Shitakes.

The runner-up, Jamie Schick, took home the second place prize with an Oat Tart with Lemon Hazelnut Custard, Bourbon Honey Gel, and Pear Ice.

This year's judges included Chef Jamie Bissonnette of Toro (Boston), Chef Jehangir Mehta of Grafitti (New York),  Pastry Chef Kate Holowchik of Townshend (Boston), Chef Matt Dugan of Vitamix (Cleveland), and Media Judge Jordana Rothman. 


Meet the Winner

Chef Cameron Hanin of Ma'Ono | Seattle, WA

Favorite flavor combination: Bitter and acid

Creative inspiration: My son

Favorite blending technique: Purées, especially for beans or zest. You can purée beans until they become almost a custard. For zest, blanch it several times and purée it with simple syrup until the blender becomes hot—you’ll have a completely smooth purée that tastes like a dairy free-curd.

Meet the Runner-Up

Pastry Chef Jamie Schick of Johnson & Wales | Providence, RI

Flavor combination:  I like slightly savory flavors combinations. One of my favorites is black truffle, chocolate and hazelnut.

Creative inspiration: Personally, I am inspired by Michael Laiskonis. He keeps it simple and clean, but doesn't compromise technique.

Favorite blending technique: Pureé. I love the power behind the Vitamix and how smooth you can make pureés.

Meet the 2016 Competitors

Chef Brian Howard of Sparrow + Wolf | Las Vegas, NV

Favorite flavor combination: A combination of really earthy and umami, broken up by aggressive acidity

Creative inspiration: I think traveling, reading, and being aware of what is and what has happened throughout history is a fundamental process of inspiration.

Favorite blending technique: It’s hard to limit to one. Whether I’m making a smooth purée, creating a powder from dried ingredients and nitrogen, heating custards or fluid gels, I can always count on my Vitamix to get the task done.

Pastry Chef Joanna Ponvanit of Bon Appetit at Getty Center | Los Angeles, CA

Favorite flavor combination: Balance and contrast. Sweet yet well-balanced with an element of surprise.

Creative inspiration: Customers, for the most part. And my mentor, Chef Erick Greenspan.

Favorite blending technique: Tempering, along with making custard, mousse, sorbet, and streusel.


Chef Michael Winkelman of Lonesome Dove Austin | Austin, TX

Favorite flavor combination: Fat, salty, and sweet

Creative inspiration: It's no one person or thing. I am inspired by everything, and in strange ways.

Favorite blending technique: Perfect emulsifications



Our grand prize winner, Cameron Hanin, received The Ultimate Vitamix Package:

  • Vita-Prep® 3
  • Vitamix® XL™
  • The Quiet One™ from Vitamix
  • A $500 American Express Gift Certificate

Our runner-up, Jamie Schick, received:

  • Vita-Prep® 3
  • $250 American Express Gift Certificate

All five finalists will receive:

  • $500 Travel Certificate/Stipend for travel to New York City
  • 3-day Industry Pass to attend the StarChefs International Chefs Congress
  • Vitamix rolling travel bag (blender not included)

General Competition Information
Eligibility: The competition is open to any working chef (restaurant, hotel, catering, banquet, etc.) – both savory and pastry. Six finalists will be chosen to compete at the International Chefs Congress.
At the International Chefs Congress: Finalists will have access to the prep kitchens at the International Chefs Congress and will have one (1) hour to prep. Chefs will then have one (1) hour to complete and present his or her dish to the judges' panel. The blending portion of each recipe must take place at the International Chefs Congress in front of the judges
Ingredients: Competitors will be required to bring their own ingredients.

Equipment: Each competitor will have access to the following equipment*:

  • Stand mixers
  • Induction burners
  • Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Spice grinder
  • Basic small wares

*Contestants will share available equipment. Selected finalists will be given the exact equipment available in advance of the competition.


Judges will base their assessment on the visual presentation, uniqueness of equipment technique, and the overall taste of the dish. Points will be awarded on a 1-10 scale (10 being the best) for each of the weighted categories:    
  • Unique Vitamix application: 50%
  • Taste: 30%
  • Overall Dish Presentation: 20%


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