Vermont chef Adam Monette can call himself a Food Network champion. Monette went head-to-head with twelve of the best holiday bakers in America in the Holiday Baking Championship and won.

Monette discovered his passion early on, working in a small bakery before attending the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier. “I was waking up very excited to go to work, and I just realized that it was more than just an interest,” said Monette.

Monette’s interest and skill in the kitchen landed him jobs at high-end hotels, inns and restaurants around Vermont and New Hampshire. Now he’s sharing what he learned and is inspiring future chefs as a teacher at the Culinary School at the Northwest Career and Tech Center in St. Albans.

Ryan Bosley, a junior at the NWCT was confident in his teacher. “Everyone in here knew he was going to win from the start because how he pushes us to perfection and wants us all to try our best and do our best.”

Monette says a former student gave the Food Network his name. He got the call and after a few interviews was selected to compete in the Holiday Baking Championships and a chance to win $25,000.

“You had people who had home businesses, you had individuals working in resorts, working in restaurants, it was just a real good swath and array of talent,” Monette said about his competition. Despite the fierce competition, Monette said he could handle the heat and the clock.

“Time frame was the hardest thing. I work in two hours here so in that sense we’re always fighting time here, we’re always playing to the whistle.”

Monette enjoys making both savory items and sweet treats and that is what his class was preparing ahead of the holidays. “He’s been my teacher since the beginning of the year. And every since then he’s made a big impact on how I think about cooking,” said Bosley.

The experience from being on the show sweetened by his big win has taught Monette a big life lesson. “Always take every opportunity that’s handed out to you, regardless if you think you’re going to be good at it or how it’s going to happen. It usually leads to something else and something very positive.”