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Forks Over Food-Off cooking competition premieres June 30 on FATV

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts students (l. to r.) Natalie Orne, Mason Bourque, and Manny Baczewski brought their A game for the Forks Over Food-Off cooking competition under the guidance of Monty Tech Food Service Director Sean Lowe (far right). The special episode airs on Fitchburg Access Television June 30 at 8 p.m.(COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts students (l. to r.) Natalie Orne, Mason Bourque, and Manny Baczewski brought their A game for the Forks Over Food-Off cooking competition under the guidance of Monty Tech Food Service Director Sean Lowe (far right). The special episode airs on Fitchburg Access Television June 30 at 8 p.m.(COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)
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FITCHBURG — The first ever Forks Over Food-Off premieres on Fitchburg Access Television Thursday evening, promising an action-packed cooking competition starring eight talented students from the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts program, a panel of experienced judges and a generous helping of entertainment.

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts students (clockwise from front left) Natalie Orne, Katherine Faucher, Jake Wendling, Bryant Parker, Mason Bourque, Manny Baczewski, Zachary Kissane, and Dante Tessier had the opportunity to participate in the Forks Over Food-Off cooking competition, which airs on Fitchburg Access Television Thursday at 8 p.m. (COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts students (clockwise from front left) Natalie Orne, Katherine Faucher, Jake Wendling, Bryant Parker, Mason Bourque, Manny Baczewski, Zachary Kissane, and Dante Tessier had the opportunity to participate in the Forks Over Food-Off cooking competition, which airs on Fitchburg Access Television Thursday at 8 p.m. (COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)

“Filming this episode was a fun and inspiring experience for our students,” said Monty Tech community outreach specialist Julie Blazar. “Demonstrating one’s skills for respected chefs and doing it for a TV audience is the kind of magical thing that happens at Monty Tech. It’s next-level, applied learning.”

The special episode is the second season finale of the popular Forks Over Fitchburg FATV series co-hosted by Alex Cardinale and David Ginisi.

“Forks Over Fitchburg continues to be groundbreaking,” said Ginisi, the show’s executive producer. “We’re giving our viewers a taste into what our future looks like with these amazingly talented culinary creators of Monty Tech.”

The students vying for the champion title include Gardner residents Manny Baczewski and Dante Tessier, Mason Bourque from Ashburnham, Katherine Faucher and Bryant Parker from Hubbardston, Baldwinville resident Zachary Kissane, Natalie Orne from Barre, and Jake Wendling from Ashby.

The episode was filmed on location on May 10 at the Monty Tech Mountain Room Restaurant, the open-to-the-public eatery where the culinary students hone their skills led by the schools’ Food Service Director Sean Lowe, who said the whole experience “was off the hook.”

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts students Mason Bourque (l.) and Manny Baczewski are filmed by Fitchburg Access Television for the Forks Over Food-Off episode, which airs tomorrow at 8 p.m., while Forks Over Fitchburg co-host David Ginisi looks on. (COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School culinary arts students Mason Bourque (l.) and Manny Baczewski are filmed by Fitchburg Access Television for the Forks Over Food-Off episode, which airs tomorrow at 8 p.m., while Forks Over Fitchburg co-host David Ginisi looks on. (COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)

“As an instructor and a culinary teacher, it was great to see the kids excited about something different,” Lowe said. “The day to day, particularly at the end of the year, can get hum drum. They were super excited, so it was great to see that, and they completely bought into the whole thing and were very enthusiastic. As teachers it gave us a lift as well, and it was super competitive and fun at the same time.”

Four local judges were recruited to lend their expertise — Tacos Tequilas General Manager Luis Angel, Luccas American Kitchen co-owner Jodi Davick, DoubleTree Hotel Boston Executive Chef and social media influencer Evan Martin, and 873 Cafe & Tavern owner Sean Smith.

“I was so happy and thrilled to go back to Monty Tech as an alumnus myself,” Martin said. “Being able to coach these passionate young chefs in the kitchen was truly an unforgettable experience for me. Win or lose, all of these competitors have the heart and dedication to be future leaders in our industry.”

Forks Over Fitchburg co-hosts Alex Cardinale (back left) and David Ginisi (back right) with the panel of judges recruited for the Forks Over Food-Off season two finale (l. to r.) 873 Cafe & Tavern owner Sean Smith, Luccas American Kitchen co-owner Jodi Davick, Double Tree Hotel Boston Executive Chef and social media influencer Evan Martin, and Tacos Tequilas General Manager Luis Angel. (COURTESY DAVID GINISI)
Forks Over Fitchburg co-hosts Alex Cardinale (back left) and David Ginisi (back right) with the panel of judges recruited for the Forks Over Food-Off season two finale – (l. to r.) 873 Cafe & Tavern owner Sean Smith, Luccas American Kitchen co-owner Jodi Davick, Double Tree Hotel Boston Executive Chef and social media influencer Evan Martin, and Tacos Tequilas General Manager Luis Angel. (COURTESY DAVID GINISI)

Davick’s two children are Monty Tech graduates along with nieces and nephews and as such “there is a strong connection to the school and obviously the culinary department.”

“It was such an honor to be part of the competition,” she said. “When I was first asked, I was rather hesitant as I manage the front of the house at Luccas and was unsure what I could offer. My partner is the chef and definitely more knowledgeable, thankfully he has taught me well and I know my way around the kitchen. It was a fun experience and each one of the contestants cooked their hearts out, there were some fun twists and they really worked together like the back of house staff does. Each one of the dishes was definitely restaurant quality and I absolutely did not want to pick one because honestly, they were all winners.”

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School Food Service Director Sean Lowe chats with culinary students at the filming for the cooking competition Forks Over Food-Off, which airs on Fitchburg Access Television June 30 at 8 p.m. (COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School Food Service Director Sean Lowe chats with culinary students at the filming for the cooking competition Forks Over Food-Off, which airs on Fitchburg Access Television June 30 at 8 p.m. (COURTESY JULIE BLAZAR)

A trickle social media publicity campaign leading up to the premiere has kept people intrigued. The special episode was announced on May 27, judges were revealed on June 1 and contestants on June 8, the trailer released on June 15, and now the culmination with the hour-long episode.

“FATV is must-see TV on Thursday … at 8 p.m.,” Ginisi said. “Witness the talent, the twists, and the turns as we determine who are the first-ever Forks Over Food-Off champions.”

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