Luce’s Culinary Clash

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco and the California Culinary Academy (CCA) announce the top five student finalists in Luce’s Culinary Clash program, one of the school’s largest cooking competitions and scholarship efforts to date. Numerous students submitted three-course menus with corresponding recipes for the opportunity to cook with Luce’s Michelin-starred Chef de Cuisine Daniel Corey, a CCA alum. Five CCA students have been selected to showcase their menu at Luce on a designated night starting on Monday, February 27, 2012.  The students’ menus will be judged by a panel of hotel executives, local personalities and food writers in addition to restaurant guests.

The top three students will receive cash prizes and the first place winner will also be invited to cook with Chef Corey at the prestigious James Beard House in April 2012. A portion of proceeds from each menu sold during the five dinners will go to the California Culinary Academy Scholarship Fund.

The three course dinners are offered at $40 per person on the following dates with one student featured each night: Monday, February 27, 2012; Sunday, March 4, 2012; Sunday, March 11, 2012; Sunday, March 18, 2012; and Sunday, March 25, 2012. Wine pairing, tax and gratuity are not included. Seating begins at 5:30pm. The top three winners will be announced during a special event at the CCA on Monday, March 26, 2012.

The five CCA finalists competing in Luce’s Culinary Clash and the date their menu will be featured are as follows:

Monday, February 27, 2012: Sinesipho Baduza

Sinesipho Baduza was raised in East London in the province of Eastern Cape, South Africa, where her first job in the food industry was at a small-scale catering operation she ran with her sister while in college. Baduza decided to take some time away from her studies and traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2009, working as a chef on private yachts. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for food. She was inspired to build a firm foundation in the culinary arts and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Associate Degree program at the California Culinary Academy.

Sunday, March 4, 2012: Stephanie Davidovich

Although Stephanie has lived abroad and all over California, she considers San Francisco her hometown. Her inspiration for cooking was sparked at a young age and she credits her mother, who did not do much cooking, as well as her grandmothers with inspiring her to get creative in the kitchen. “I started exploring the kitchen and cooking here and there for my family,” she says. While working simultaneously as a health counselor, 1st grade teacher, and middle school cooking teacher, Davidovich decided to pursue the culinary world in a more formal way. She is currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Certificate program at the CCA.

Sunday, March 11, 2012: Bruce Pettit

Bruce Pettit was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida and is currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Certificate program at the CCA. Before beginning to cook on his own, Pettit drew inspiration from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” program. “I watched his show for years before I ever cooked anything, and I still love his way of thinking about cooking and food.” Pettit slowly started to cook for family and friends and enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to attend culinary school. When he is not in class, Pettit is experimenting in his home kitchen, making all kinds of ingredients from scratch including soda syrups, coconut milk and curry powder.

Sunday, March 18, 2012: Ashley Gates

A native of Thousand Oaks, California, Ashley Gates comes from a family that loved to cook. While her career path led her to work at Apple, Inc., she decided to pursue her passion for cooking after four years with the company. “When I am in the kitchen and making food for family or guests, I know that I am doing something that brings people together and makes them happy. That alone gives me more satisfaction than eating.” Gates is currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Certificate program at the CCA.

Sunday, March 25, 2012: Jessica Curtis

A California native, Jessica Curtis grew up in Menlo Park, holding jobs that fit with her interests – the outdoors, skiing and food.  With most of Curtis’ family working in the food, wine, and beer industry, it seemed only natural that she would pursue the same direction. Inspired by cooking with her family, Curtis enrolled in the Culinary Arts Certificate program at the CCA. Looking towards her future, Curtis would like to focus on butchery and the craft of working with meats and breaking down animals.

In addition to showcasing their menu in a Michelin-starred restaurant, the finalists will also receive special training on wine pairing with Luce’s Beverage Director John Wight and partners from Treasury Wine Estates including Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Etude, St. Clement and Stags’ Leap Winery. Students will spend a full day exploring each winery, meeting winemakers and learning about the varietals. Every dinner will have a designated wine partner, with the finalists pairing wine according to their menu.

Luce offers a dining experience that is the perfect marriage of local flavors and global inspiration, focusing on New American cuisine. In addition to sourcing the best sustainable products as possible, Chef Corey is committed to crafting many items in house, including pastas, desserts and pickled ingredients. Luce has been recognized with a Michelin star since 2009 and this year’s accolade marks the first Michelin star under Chef Corey’s direction. Luce is also the recipient of the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” for two consecutive years.

Located on the lobby level of the InterContinental San Francisco in the South of Market district, Luce offers a modern and sophisticated dining atmosphere. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves brunch on weekends. For reservations, please call 415.616.6566 or visit

For more information on Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco and further details on Luce’s Culinary Clash, please visit