Lamb Jam Masters – Vote For Your Favorite City & Chef

Congrats to Chef John Critchley on winning the Lamb Jam Masters!

Also, Congrats to Chef Brian Alberg on winning the People’s Choice Award.

Check out some great photos from the event


Sumac Masala Rubbed Lamb Shoulder

Alex Paguaga

Lodge Chef / Suncadia Resort

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Alex Paguaga has a passion for imaginative food with a focus on clean and simple flavors. Alex has years of experience in the culinary field with hands on training in classic culinary techniques. He started his culinary adventure in his early years at the age of fifteen working as a dishwasher in his hometown of Bellevue, Washington. At sixteen, he worked at Jonah’s Restaurant at the Bellevue Inn Hotel where for the first time he experienced an energetic kitchen brigade system. He instantly knew this is what he would be doing the rest of his more
Chef Paguaga has worked at numerous Washington restaurants and Hotels such as Dukes Bar and Grill, Bellevue Club, Daniels Broiler, 727 Pine at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and the historical Rainier Club. Currently Alex is at Suncadia Resort in the heart of the Cascade Mountains creating seasonal regional cuisine with an added personal twist. He has been featured in Alaskan Airlines Magazine, Sunset Magazine and in the Heed the Hedonist blog on spa food at Suncadia.On time away from the kitchen while living in North Bend, Washington, with his wife and daughter, Alex is always finding a way to be outdoors. Whether it is on his boat or his snowboard, fishing or hiking.

Lamb meatballs

Brian Alberg

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Chef Brian Alberg is a native of Copake, NY, in the Berkshire foothills, where he began his culinary career as an apprentice at the former l’Hostelierre Bressane. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. in 1987, he oversaw the kitchens in a number of high-profile Berkshire area restaurants earlier in his career, including the Underhill Inn, the 1780 Egremont Inn and the Old Inn on the Green. He left the area in 1993 to become Executive Chef at Dudley’s Restaurant in Westchester, NY, where he earned a “Very Good” rating from the New York Times and made his first appearance at the James Beard more
Alberg went on to work as executive chef and later Director of Food & Beverage at the Old Saybrook Inn & Spa, a AAA Four-Diamond property, where he was honored for the first time at the James Beard Foundation. Alberg then moved into the corporate world with Marriott where he helped open a number of hotels and created a Mediterranean menu with recipes and training information that was distributed to Marriott and Renaissance Hotels across the globe.Alberg began his tenure at The Red Lion Inn in July of 2004. He is a member of the James Beard Foundation and is President of Berkshire Grown, an organization dedicated to promoting the support of local farming and strengthening the relationships between local farmers and restaurants. He also serves on the board of the Railroad Street Youth Project to provide young people with the opportunity to explore the culinary arts alongside a professional chef. Alberg has appeared on Good Morning America, Chronicle, NECN’s TV Diner with Billy Costa, Albany (NY) News Channel 13 and WGBY’s On the Menu! (Springfield, MA), as well as in The Boston Globe, Hudson Valley Magazine and Gastronomica. Alberg resides in Kinderhook, NY.

Lamb Pupusa

John Critchley

Executive Chef, Urbana

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Executive Chef, John Critchley, brings more than 17 years of experience to Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar. Critchley joins the restaurant from Miami’s Area 31, where he created a menu honoring the restaurant’s name, an ecologically sound fishing region encompassing the Western Atlantic Ocean.Having been born and raised in Scituate, Massachusetts, a small suburban fishing town on the south shore of Boston, Critchley quickly grew fascinated by the sea. This is also where he began his culinary career, working, at the age of 14, at the Red Lion Inn as a dishwasher. By the time he graduated high school, Critchley was already serving as a line more
Since graduating in May 1997 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Critchley has worked closely with some of the nation’s top restaurateurs and chefs. Most notably, he was responsible for several high-profile restaurants alongside Chef Ken Oringer. In 2003, Critchley was hired as Line Chef under Oringer in Boston’s Clio Restaurant and within a year was promoted to Sous Chef. Critchley was also Sous Chef at the Oringer-operated Uni Sashimi Bar. Both restaurants received numerous accolades such as the prestigious “Best of Boston” award. In 2005, he also helped Oringer open the popular Spanish tapas restaurant Toro. After a stint working with the harvesters at Island Creek Oyster Company, Critchley joined the Kimpton Restaurant group in May of 2008 and continued his culinary training in San Francisco before taking his post at Area 31 in October 2008.After leaving Area 31 in 2010, he relocated to Washington, DC to join Urbana as Executive Chef. In short order, Critchley has adapted to his new city, making food-loving friends on twitter, and enticing Urbana regulars with creative seafood and farmers’ market inspired pizzas. He currently lives in Alexandria, Va. with his wife Justine, son Jack, and dog, Zoey.

The Lamb and the Fig

Vernon Morales

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A graduate of San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, Vernon Morales was honored with the ‘Best New Restaurant’ award in Philadelphia and was recognized as National Rising Star Chef by spent the first half of his youth growing up in Nicaragua and the latter here in the U.S. Immediately after graduating from the California Culinary Academy, he worked in New York City at the celebrated Restaurant Daniel with Daniel Boulud. Two years later, Vernon moved to Spain to be chef de partie at Ferran Adria’s world-renowned El Bulli, widely considered to be one of the top five restaurants in the world. read more
He returned to Restaurant Daniel to take over the coveted position of sous chef two years later. Eventually, after stints at Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria with Laurent Gras and at the Ritz Carlton, Vernon was recruited to be the executive chef at the wildly popular Salt in Philadelphia, then later left Philadelphia to open Winterland Restaurant in San Francisco.It was at Winterland that he came into contact with Town Hall owner and chef Mitchell Rosenthal, who frequented the restaurant and realized that Vernon was a rare talent, cooking food on a level that no one in San Francisco had achieved before. In 2009, Mitchell got his wish when Vernon joined the group as Chef at Town Hall. Salt House then got their wish when they stole him from Town Hall in 2012.