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    I’ve been obsessed with watching Top Chef since its first season on Bravo, even so far as to dine alone at season one winner Harold Dieterle’s restaurant while on a work trip to New York City. Then there’s the Next Food Network Star, and any number of spinoffs, but they all boil down to fulfilling the viewing audience’s love of watching people cook competitively. I’m not a sports person but I can cheer my favorites on to greater culinary feats with the most the best of basketball and football fans.Cooking with gasNow I have a chance to watch gastronomic drama unfold live, and even taste the creations of aspiring chefs. On August 10 at Sullivan University’s Winston Restaurant, Sullivan culinary students will compete for a $500 scholarship from Dumante (the Italian Pistachio Nut Liqueur). Five top dishes and five cocktails – all featuring Dumante -- will be selected ahead of time, and local “celebrity” chefs and foodies will play Tom Colicchio’s role and choose the winners. Judges will include Winston’s Executive chef John Castro and Limestone and the Seelbach Oakroom’s Jim Gerhardt. To my knowledge there will not be an uber-svelte Padma stand-in offering mumbled inanities. I’ll be one of 25 mere mortals from the general public attending – though the event is open to all for a $25 cover, it’s only open to the first 25 who RSVP. It starts at 6 with a cocktail reception and tasting of the five cocktail finalists. Small plate tastings of the five savory dish finalists are up at 7. By that point we should be liquored up enough to properly cheer on the upcoming chef-testants. If you can’t get enough of reality TV cooking and want to see some serious students battle it out under your nose, call 721-8636 to rsvp.

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