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Vino e Vivo Employee Tops Statewide Culinary Competition

We are so proud of our young chef, Orion Raczek, who won first place in the Skills USA Culinary Arts State Competition on Wednesday.

Orion, who is from Newmarket, is a senior and student in the culinary arts program at the Seacoast School of Technology. After winning the state competition, Orion will move on to the national finals in Atlanta this June.

The Skills USA Championships is the premier showcase of America’s most highly skilled career and technical education students. It’s also one of the largest hands-on workforce development events in the world.

Chef Margaret Forêt, his culinary instructor, said Orion has showed a true enthusiasm and commitment to cooking from his first day in the program.

“He's the student who comes in early, stays late, and signs up for every event and volunteer opportunity,” Forêt said. “He can tackle any task thrown at him with ease and confidence.”

When she heard that Vino e Vivo was looking for kitchen help, Orion was the first student that came to mind. He has been part of the SST Culinary Arts ProStart team for the past two years. That team came in second at the state level this year.

“Orion is a model of skill, diplomacy, and perseverance and I, for one, am eager to see how he will use these talents to build his empire,” Forêt said.

Chef Paul Callahan and owner Tony Callendrello were on hand to support Orion at the statewide awards ceremony on Wednesday, where he learned that he’d come in first place.

Chef Paul Callahan was impressed with Orion’s professional attitude and desire to become a chef from the start. The high school student has been working at Vino e Vivo for a year and has impressed both the kitchen staff and guests.

“It’s a rarity to see a young person who is so passionate about cooking,” Chef Paul said. “It gives me hope for our industry.”

Chef Paul has mentored Orion, and even presented him with a bandana, like the one he wears, as a testament to how hard he’s worked in the kitchen. He’s watched the young man overcome adversity in the kitchen and learn to work under pressure.

“I’ve seen him learn to set his station more efficiently, improve his time management and become more comfortable interacting with our guests in the dining room and at the chef’s table,” Chef Paul said. “He has such a great attitude, which is a testament to his parents influence.”

Orion will graduate from the SST in June and has accepted an offer to work at Vino e Vivo full-time. “He’s been a big part of making the kitchen run smoothly,” Chef Paul said. “We are so lucky to have him on our team.”

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