Shrestha is the 2017 Top Chef


Everest Kitchen’s Laxmi Shrestha makes final touches to her dessert at the 2017 Next Top Chef competition last Thursday at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The title of 2017 Top Chef went to Laxmi Shrestha, the chef and owner of Everest Kitchen, who beat out 11 other chefs last Thursday to take the title in the competition held at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan in Garapan.

Shresta, who expressed shock and astonishment at her win, was awarded the 2017 Top Chef trophy, along with $1,000. She said the money would be invested in Everest Kitchen to further enhance it.

A total of 12 chef contestants came head to head for the title of 2017 Top Chef in the competition put together by the Empty Vessel Ministry Foundation and Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Kensington Hotel’s Joon Su Park came in second place and was awarded $500, while third place was awarded to Vicente Montoya of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, who was awarded $300.

The other contestants were Paul Enriquez of Pacific Islands Club Saipan, Antonio Agulto Jr. of Hyatt Regency Saipan, independent chef Rolly Gayosa, Kevin Piol of the Northern Marianas Trades Institute, Sonny Encarnacion of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, Emmanuel Pancha of Mariana Resort & Spa, Ronald Gabionza from NMTI, Richard Meimban from Grandvrio Resort Saipan, and Christopher Coronongan from the Saipan World Resort.

All contestants were given certificates of participation and consolation prizes.

The competition started with two appetizer rounds, a main course round, and the dessert round.

According to Shrestha, participating in the competition was already a prize in itself. To be able to showcase her skills and learn new techniques from the other chefs was enough for her.

Shrestha, who was rendered speechless by her win, said no words could possibly describe how she feels about winning the competition.

One of the judges, Ken Stewart, Tool of the Trade Guam general manager, said that this year’s competition showcased natural talent and passion. “Everybody had an excitement here and they were able to execute well,” he said.

According to Empty Vessel Ministry Foundation founder Rose Smith, the event was a great success and the turnout was impressive. “We are very grateful to everyone who contributed or participated in making this year’s event a success. Tickets were sold out,” said Smith. “Everyone helped wholeheartedly and we are grateful. We are happy and looking forward to next year.”

Proceeds raised from the event will go to funding the projects and programs of the Empty Vessel Ministry Foundation.

Everest Kitchen opened in 2014.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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