Every year as the NCAA basketball tournament starts winding down, our best cooks start warming up for our Best Cook Contest. This is our third year since expanding the field to 64. We break up our 22 stores into regions and get 64 of our best cooks to battle each other in a contest of speed and quality. Today saw the 2011 competition start up with the East region tossing at our Bridle Trails location. Of note was the absence of last year’s winner and 2009 finalist GM Paul Williams of Crossroads who stepped aside to let more of his crew compete. Tony Schaeffer, Matt “Smash” Jalali and Scott Heikkinen came to represent for Crossroads. Scott put up a score that, if it holds up, continues Crossroads’ presence in the Sweet 16.
]Sam Kosola leads the division after the first day for the second time in his Pagliacci career. He first competed as a Shift Leader for Ballinger. Since then, Sam has moved up the ladder to AM and represented Juanita with the best score of the day. In second place is another transplant. Zach Lindner of Main Street returned to Bridle Trails where he was originally hired before lending experience to our newest store. Ethan Williamson, also of Main Street, tossed the best-looking pie of the day but sits on the bubble because of time. Main Street’s third competitor, Richmond native and VCU grad Tim Ihlenfeld came representing his alma mater. Unfortunately his Rams t-shirt didn’t prove lucky as he was left out of the top 4. With a few competitors left from the East yet to compete things aren’t settled just yet. Tomorrow sees the West start tossing at Magnolia.