Margate’s Joe Mikitish, 23, came to the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College with a college degree in business management already under his belt.

“I knew I didn’t want to sit behind a desk (for a living),” he said. “I was in the kitchen, cooking with my mom for years, and really enjoyed it.”

Mikitish will graduate from the academy this spring. He has been working at Jose Garces’ Amada in Atlantic City’s Revel since May, he said, helping prepare authentic Spanish fare.

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Mikitish was chosen by ACA adjunct instructor Chef Jon Davies, of Cape May, to compete in the Northeast regionals of the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, starting Jan. 23 at the Astor Center in New York. He will be up against aspiring student chefs from four other culinary schools in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Davies said several instructors recommended Mikitish, and that the student has incredible poise in the kitchen.

“He doesn’t get flustered,” Davies said. “This will be high stress.”

He will have two hours to make his dish, working in a small kitchen alongside his competitors, Davies said. He is coaching Mikitish on preparing pan smoked salmon with chipotle and avocado vinaigrette, cilantro oil on top of roasted corn and pepper farro with fried baby artichokes.

The regional winner will compete in the nationals in March in Napa Valley, Calif., for a $22,000 prize and a paid internship with a celebrity chef.

Mikitish hopes to eventually open his own restaurant, like the Pellegrino contest’s first winner in 2002, Chicago restaurateur Joncarl Lachman. He is set to open his Scandinavian restaurant, Noord, this spring in Philadelphia.

Cape Regional therapist honored

Physical therapist Melissa Musser, of Cape May Court House, is the Service Excellence of the Month honoree for December at Cape Regional Medical Center. She was nominated by coworker and nurse Gina Maloney, of Lower Township, for exceptional care in recognizing that Maloney’s mother needed to go to the emergency room and for helping her through her ordeal.

Musser and her husband, Doug, have two daughters, Ella and Chloe.

East Lynne presents scholarship

Rider University junior and theater major Gabrielle Wilson, 21, of Wildwood and Pitman, Gloucester County, was awarded a $300 Historic Jackson Street Neighborhood Association Scholarship by East Lynne Theater Company in November.

Wilson has worked as a production assistant at East Lynne in Cape May during the summer, according to the theater.

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