James Volpe & Bashar Srouji are trying to make it to the next round in the online competition.
NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. — We are celebrating Western New York with two chefs who are making their way to the top in an online competition.
The Favorite Chef competition is also a fundraiser for the James Beard Foundation.
For James Volpe from Frankie Primo’s in North Tonawanda and Bashar Srouji from Ghada Have It! in Niagara Falls, winning the Favorite Chef competition would be life-changing.
“Honestly, it would feel great,” said James Volpe, Executive Chef at Frankie Primo’s North.
The competition has several groups, so we don’t know how many people they’re up against. But right now, Srouji is in third place in his group and Volpe is in first place in his.
“My family is a big inspiration. Being able to cook with my kids at home and, you know, showing them some of the stuff and having them even walk in here not knowing they were coming just to have dinner and come sit out with them for a little bit puts a big smile on my face,” says James Volpe.
“It honestly is a dream come true, you know, and that’s not just saying that. That’s really what it is, you know, being able to wake up every morning and go and do what I love to do and then know that people love what we do and just feeling that immense joy,” says Bashar Srouji, Owner and Executive Chef at Ghada Have It.
They make it to the next round Thursday if they stay in the top 5.
Both chefs draw inspiration from their families. Srouji gets a lot of his recipes from his mom and grandmother.
“Our slogan being Teta’s Way, that’s how you say grandmother in Arabic, and since it’s both of their recipes, dating back 65 years from Nazareth, that’s kind of, I feel that’s a big reason why people enjoy our food. They enjoy the time and love that gets put into it,” said Bashar Srouji.
“I love doing different risotto dishes. It’s very unique. You can, it’s a base so you can put whatever in it and turn it into something else. It’s a good staple and then kind of branches off,” said James Volpe.
The winner gets $25,000, a 2-page spread in Taste of Home Magazine and they get to cook with chef Carla Hall. You can vote for free once a day. The winner will be announced at the end of August.