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Sirena's Cuisine Reigns Supreme at Long Branch Chef Challenge

LONG BRANCH: Some of the area's best restaurants were on hand on Nov. 3 to find out which chef could create the most mouthwatering dish for the Long Branch Chef Challenge.

The annual Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce was held in one of the ballrooms of Ocean Place Resort & Spa and featured 15 restaurants that were judged by a panel of judges that included Long Branch Councilman Michael Sirianni, Debbie George of The Daily Meal, Chef Brian Petersen and radio personality Big Joe Henry.

Ultimately, the judges decided that chef Ken Mansfield of Sirena Ristorante in Pier Village had the best tasting dish of the night as he took home the Chef Judges Award. Mansfield made porcini ravioli with a truffle creme for the hungry guests.

The attendees had a different opinion as they chose the berkshire carnitas tacos of Chef Bradley Rodriguez of Copper Canyon in Atlantic Highlands for the People's Choice Award.

Other participants included new Rooney's Executive Chef Thomas Schoborg, who cooked up pecan-crusted rainbow trout with the help of sous chef Zack Houck.

"We wanted to pay homage to our southern roots and keep it seasonal," Schoborg said.

Dive Coastal Bar of Sea Bright head chef Kyle Hopfensperger was a first-time participant in the event but said he has competed in events like the Long Branch Chef Challenge before. He showcased Dive's black bean burger which was topped with smoked tomato chutney, bibb lettuce and chipotle aioli.

The award for best tabletop design went to Flowerful Events of Eatontown, and the people's choice award in the same category went to the Stone Hut of Pier Village.

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