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Plymouth chef wins cooking competition

JOHNNY SHEEHAN
JOHNNY SHEEHANHandout

TASTING VICTORY: Chef Johnny Sheehan brings a lot to the plate at the New World Tavern in Plymouth.

His skills in the kitchen earned him an impressive victory a few miles to the north: the top prize at the Ommegang Hop Chef competition in Boston last month. The 33-year-old Sheehan beat out six other chefs to capture the palates of not just the panel of judges but also the attending diners for the "Fan Favorite" award.

"Representing the South Shore, I think I surprised the Boston chefs who thought they'd roll over the kid from Plymouth," Sheehan said with a laugh. "I won the main event and people's choice, the first time anyone has won both."

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For his winning ways, Sheehan gets a trip to the finals Aug. 8 and 9 in Cooperstown, N.Y., part of a Belgian beer festival, he said in a phone interview.

Participating chefs were assigned a beer from Brewery Ommegang and asked to compose a dish using different principles of the pairing process.

"We had to present to judges and the public," he said. "I had to make about 400 small portions."

His winning work was a striped bass sashimi, using Hennepin, a farmhouse saison brew, which Sheehan said has "interesting spices, like grains of paradise, kind of spicy like black peppercorn, and which uses ginger and orange peel in brewing."

He made a Thai coconut curry using the same spices, a potent concoction but "delicate enough to go with raw fish."

Sheehan grew up in Raynham and now lives in Bridgewater. He got his cooking start at home with his mom. He started working in the trade as a dishwasher at 14, then as a young adult got a first-hand look at the Boston food scene making deliveries. That fired his passion for cooking, and he went to the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Cambridge.

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He went on to work under chef Ken Oringer at Boston's Clio, where "I really got my true education, working at Uni, Clio's sushi bar."

He hasn't figured out how to work his winning dish into the fare at New World Tavern, which features an "upscale twist on tavern food," he said.

"Sashimi is progressive, but we do specials and special dinners, ticketed items to taste, so I can do more progressive stuff," he said.

"This area has more and more to offer," Sheehan said of the food scene in Plymouth. "It's got a nice waterfront and a definite South Shore vibe. Everyone's on board with stepping up the game."

SACRED HEART COACH WINS NATIONAL HONOR: Daniel Sapir of Kingston, speech and debate coach at Sacred Heart School in Kingston, has earned national recognition as a Second Diamond Coach, awarded by the National Speech & Debate Association. Sapir, who is also the performing arts director at the school, will be honored at a national tournament next week in Kansas City, Kan.

He will be at the national event with one of his students, junior Adam Tomasi of Kingston, who will compete in the tourney, one of the world's largest speech and debate competitions.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Zeshan Muhammad of Attleboro was promoted to district manager at Duxbury-based VERC Enterprises, which runs convenience stores and gasoline stations in eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He has been with VERC since 2006, and most recently was manager of the Commerce Way Mobil in Plymouth. . . . Pamela O'Leary, executive vice president and chief information officer at South Shore Bank, was named to the board of directors at the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. . . . Randolph Engineering Inc. in Randolph was named winner of the US Small Business Administration's Massachusetts 2014 Small Business Exporter of the Year Award. The company has made eyewear in the United States since 1972, and has supplied sunglasses to the US military worldwide for more than 30 years. . . . Zachery Olsen was named director of food and beverage at Mirbeau Inn & Spa at the Pinehills in Plymouth, and is in charge of overseeing the inn's restaurants, Henri-Marie, the Wine Bar & Bistro, and the Aqua Terrace Café, as well as onsite events and catering. He is a level-two certified sommelier.

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Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at pkandarian@ aol.com.