Lynchburg chef needs your vote to advance in national competition

Quarterfinal voting ends Thursday at 9PM

One chef in our area is in urgent need of your help in order to advance in a national competition.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – One chef from our area is in urgent need of your help.

In her Lynchburg kitchen, chef Michelle Ayers is whipping up a recipe for success by participating in a national contest.

But to win, she needs a special ingredient -- your vote.

“This competition has given us something fun to look forward to. It’s given us something fun to promote and not talk about the pandemic so much,” said Ayers.

She entered Favorite Chef 2021, an online competition with nearly 30,000 cooking professionals from across the county.

Ayers is in the top 1,000, and they’re now divided into 64 groups. The winner of each group advances to the semifinals.

Ayers is currently in second place and voting ends Thursday at 9 p.m.

“The support has been amazing. I’ve been so humbled and honored to still be in it,” said Ayers.

With more than two decades of experience, she opened Purple Door Gourmet Kitchen and Catering in Lynchburg in 2019.

“She’s always smiling, always happy to be working with food. She gets excited about making food,” said Sharon Stafford, Ayer’s sister.

The chef’s family helps out.

“It would mean the world to her if she won this competition,” said Stafford.

The grand prize is a two-page spread in Bon Appetit magazine and $50,000.

Ayers says the money would allow her to catch up on bills from the pandemic, buy a catering van and give back to her family.

“I would want to also help them and give back to them for some of what they’ve given to me and help me survive through this time,” said Ayers.

You’re allowed one, free online vote per day. Then, you can buy additional votes through the ‘hero vote’.

Every dollar gets Ayers an extra point, while proceeds are donated to Feeding America.

If she advances, Ayers will enter another round of voting for the semifinals. The official winner will be announced on April 8th.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.