McLendon needs votes to win Favorite Chef

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

One Albemarle High School student was at last month’s West Badin Juneteenth celebration grilling ribeye steaks, but he may soon be seen on a national basis.

Tahj McLendon, a rising sophomore at Albemarle, is ranked among a short list of cooking candidates in the online competition Favorite Chef.

The contest, hosted by celebrity chef Carla Hall of “Top Chef” and “The Chew” fame, asks fans of chefs from around the country to vote for their favorites.

Currently, McLendon, the youngest in the group, is in third place behind group leader Leandra J. McCall and Susan M. Jett.

The contest offers a grand prize of $25,000 and a two-page advertorial in a future edition of “Taste of Home” magazine.

Originally starting with 92 contestants, the voting process has decreased the competition down to 10. Voting for the top 5 ends Thursday at 7 p.m.

LaShriee House, Tahj’s mother, said her son came to enter the contest on Facebook after a suggestion from close family friend and business mentor Dr. Arloishia Israel.

McLendon, who is at the Upward Bound Elite Scholar academic camp this week, “is a kid of many talents,” according to Albemarle football coach Richard Davis, for whom the rising sophomore started last year on the line.

Some might see coaching Tahj, the son of future Stanly County Hall of Fame member and Albemarle standout T.A .McLendon, as a challenge.

“You have to accept the kid as a whole person,” Davis said. “My job as a football coach is to make him a better man. I’m thrilled that he is into something outside of football. Football won’t last forever.”

McLendon has his own business, Tahj Esquisite Taste. His mother said her son has prepared everything from sushi and Mexican food to steaks, salmon and soul food dishes.

“He’s a real food connoisseur. He has watched food competitions on his iPad since he was 7 or 8. He always knew who would win and lose, and why,” House said.

Eventually, she added, Tahj would like to become a successful private chef.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

email author More by Charles