Samson Tan is first-ever Tinian Top Chef winner


From left, Tinian Municipal Council chair Joseph Santos, Samson Tan, and Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan after Tan won a cooking competition that was part of the festivities of Tinian’s first-ever Beef, Beer, and Bands Festival which ran from Aug. 13 to 15. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Samson Tan won big two weekends ago, after being named the Tinian Top Chef during a cooking competition held at the first-ever Beef, Beer, and Bands Festival on Tinian that ran from Aug. 13 to 15.

Following a format similar to the popular cooking competition Iron Chef, three chefs from Saipan—Tan, Laxmi Shrestha from Everest Kitchen, and Sonnie Sablan from Ina’s Kitchen—were invited to Tinian and in 90 minutes had to make an appetizer/chaser, soup, and main entree that utilized one required, key ingredient: Tinian beef.

In an interview with Tan on Monday, he described his competition meal as a “French-island style fusion.” For his appetizer, Tan prepared beef tartare—a dish similar to and involving techniques similar to beef kelaguen— and soft-boiled egg. For soup he prepared a consommé, or very rich beef broth, and for his main entrée, Tan prepared beef bourguignon, a French red wine beef stew, which was paired with roasted beef bone marrow.

The meal, which was paired with a glass of red wine for each of the competition’s three judges, won Tan a trophy, a $1,000 cash prize, and an automatic invite to next year’s Tinian Top Chef, which will be held during next year’s BBB Festival in July 2022.

Tan said he was more than grateful for the opportunity to compete and highlight Tinian’s beef through his cooking. “It’s a great, exciting, and fun experience to be able to visit Tinian again to share my knowledge, experience and expertise. …I feel humble and grateful, [and] being a champion [was] just a plus for me,” said Tan.

Tan has had 30 years of food and beverage and large-scale hotel culinary experience in the CNMI, and has won cooking competitions in the past, winning several competitions that were held during past Tastes of the Marianas. He is also a member of the American Culinary Federation and Micronesian Chefs Association.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.

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