Tim Labonte’s pork belly waffles smoked the competition this morning at the fifth annual Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off, accomplishing what no other dish has been able to do in four years: Knock perennial winner Lisa Kostopoulos off her French toast throne.
"I certainly didn’t expect it, to be completely honest," said first-time competitor Labonte, who is executive chef at Eve’s at the Garden, the restaurant in the Portland Harbor Hotel.
Labonte’s Bacon, Egg & Cheese Waffles, a fixture on the hotel’s breakfast menu, are topped with Maine cheddar and a sunny-side-up egg. For the contest, he added some fresh thyme to the batter and maple bacon crunch on top, "which is not on our menu, but starting tomorrow obviously it’s going to be on there."
The sold out cook-off marked the launch of Maine Restaurant Week, which begins Saturday and runs through March 10. For $22.50 a ticket, guests wandered the restaurant and grazed from table to table, sampling all of the participating chefs’ dishes. Then they voted on their favorites – each guest gets two votes – and the winner was crowned.
The event is a benefit for Preble Street’s anti-hunger and homelessness programs, and this year raised just over $4,000.