Battle of the Chefs Introduces New Culinary Team at Ariccia, Piccolo and The Hotel at Auburn University

The Hotel at Auburn University today announced a new all-star culinary team to head the kitchens at Ariccia Trattoria & Bar, Piccolo and in the hotel. Chef Andrew Litherland of Ritz Carlton fame and Chef Miguel Figueroa have been appointed as Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine respectively.

Ariccia will mark their debut with a month-long Battle of the Chefs culinary competition.  The competition will include a “Best Menu” battle during April between the two chefs and the opportunity for diners to win a private dinner party, prepared and served in the intimate setting of their home.  
“We wanted to create a fitting way to introduce the stellar line-up taking the helm of the Ariccia, Piccolo and The Hotel at Auburn University kitchens,” said Hans van der Reijden, Managing Director of The Hotel at Auburn University.  “Both chefs have worked in renowned resorts and restaurants around the world, and we thought hosting a Battle of the Chefs competition would be a unique and fun way to showcase their creative talent and introduce them to the community.”  
The Battle of the Chefs competition will take place April 5-30, 2010.  Throughout the month, diners will have the opportunity to dine from special chef-created three-course prix fixe menus that will change every week.  Each Monday, Chef Litherland and Chef Figueroa will introduce their own new menus that will be available for that week.  Each chef will create an appetizer and entrée, and the dessert course for both menus will be created by Pastry Chef Adelle Bonilla. Guests will have the option to choose either chef’s menu when dining and will be entered into a drawing to win a dinner party for six at their home that will be prepared by one of the chefs each time they dine from the prix fixe menus.   The prix fixe menus will be $29 per person and can be viewed each week at the Ariccia Facebook Fan Page, where diners can also vote for their favorite overall menus.  Some items from the winning menu will be incorporated into the Ariccia or Piccolo menus in the fall.     
At the end of the month, two winners will be chosen to receive the dinner parties – one hosted by each chef.  The winners will be able to choose their favorite prix fixe menu for the chef to prepare at their home.  The at-home dinner must be booked before the start of football season.  
An award-winning chef with a world-class background, Chef Litherland formerly served as the executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta. Originally from New Zealand, he has worked with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company for more than 14 years and has served in hotels in Osaka, Japan; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Rancho Mirage, California; Key Biscayne and Orlando, Florida.  In his past positions, Chef Litherland has assisted with hotel and restaurant openings and has won awards for his outstanding performances in various aspects of the culinary arena.  Since he has worked all over the world, Chef Litherland’s style of cooking encompasses a wide variety of tastes.  From Italian and American to Arabic and Japanese, he brings with him a well-rounded culinary palate.  
“My wife, Chizuko, and I are so excited to be here in Auburn with our three sons.  Everyone has been very welcoming,” said Litherland.  “I am excited about the new endeavors that lay ahead of me, and I look forward to working closely with the Auburn University Hotel and Restaurant Management students and teaching them the tricks of the cooking trade.”            
Chef Figueroa’s cooking career began at the renowned Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Fl.  There he honed his culinary skills by working in the property’s various restaurants featuring Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.  He also has extensive experience working at highly regarded independent restaurants – he was the Sous Chef at Roy’s Restaurant in Naples, FL and was also the Executive Sous Chef at Rocco’s Italian Grille in Winter Park, FL.  Cooking is not his only culinary talent; he has served as a chef consultant at El Bodegon Tapas & Wine Bar in Winter Park, FL and Palio Ristorante in Jericho, NJ.  Prior to arriving at Ariccia, Chef Figueroa was the Executive Sous Chef at the Hilton Key Largo Grande Resort in Key Largo, Fl.  Chef Figueroa lives in Auburn with his wife and two young daughters.   
“My experience in Auburn so far has been fantastic,” said Figueroa.  “The small town feeling of Auburn takes me back to my time in Puerto Rico where everyone knows each other. I am thrilled to be a part of the team at The Hotel at Auburn University and am glad to be working with such a talented group of individuals.”
Ariccia Italian Trattoria & Bar is located in The Hotel at Auburn University, 241 S. College Street in Auburn.  An open kitchen and outdoor terrace seating add character to this restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, Sunday Brunch, and offers take-out service.  Ariccia features an espresso bar and unique wine list, and has a private dining room for special events.  Located next to Ariccia, Piccolo is Auburn’s newest gathering place for specialty cocktails and a large variety of appetizers and desserts.  The menu features a variety of small plates perfect for sharing, refreshing cocktails, and piccolo bottles of champagne. Live jazz performances will take place on Fridays and Saturdays (except on home football game weekends).