FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND – Just after the holidays the winner of the Chef Noel competition was announced this week. The competition, held during the Grand Bahama National Trust’s annual fundraiser, Festival Noel, at the Rand Nature Centre in Freeport, gives local restaurants a chance to compete against each other for the title of top chef on the island.

This years winner was a new comer to the field who managed to steal the title from two time winner Iries, of the Westin Resort, formerly Our Lucaya. Though the owner of the restaurant had previously exhibited at Festival with one of his other restaurants his newest prodigy “The Harbour Room” and his new Chef and Restaurant Manager, Samuel Favella, captured the title of Chef Noel 2006.

“We always knew we wanted to enter the Harbour Room in the competition at Festival. The National Trust in Grand Bahama puts on such a well attended event and I thought it would be ideal to showcase our new Chef and our new menu,” commented restaurateur Jeff Butler “everyone comes to the Harbour Room for our great Sunday brunch menu and for our special functions, now we hope they will see that our dinner menu is just as noteworthy.”

The Harbour Room and Chef Favella beat out competitors; Aqua Fine dining from Old Bahama Bay, Iries and China Beach from the Westin, Ret Catering and the Grouper Grill of Ocean Reef Yacht Club. The results were very close according to Chairman of the Festival Committee, Carolyn Millighan, and it is expected Favella’s claim on the title will be heavily challenged in 2007.

“This really has become one of the highlights and real draws for our event,” noted Millighan, “we have over 500 attendees who decide on our winner and it’s truly a popular vote.” “I am thrilled,” said Chef Favella, “being new to the restaurant and the island I was really challenged by my boss to pull out all the stops for this event. I look forward to next years challenge!”