SOUTH PORTLAND – Near the end of the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off on Friday, it became clear that there was going to be a showdown.

Reed Gordon, the 15-year-old son of Sea Dog Brewing Co. chef Chris Gordon, moseyed up to The Good Table’s display, dozens of colorful beaded necklaces around his neck. Each necklace was a vote for his dad’s popular pumpkin ale pancakes.

The teenager, sipping on a can of Red Bull, eyed the rival restaurant’s fast-dwindling supply of creme brulee French toast, the dish that has won first place at the cook-off two years in a row.

“That’s doin’ it,” he nodded to Lisa Kostopolous, owner of The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth, who earlier had modeled her own colorful stack of necklaces.

The big gun and the new gun in town gathered their kitchen posses around them, and waited for the results.

Jim Britt of gBritt PR, the organizer of the event, announced that the top two restaurants were separated by just five votes.

The crowd gasped.

Britt later corrected himself, saying the vote was actually even closer. Kostopolous, he said, had once again hit the bull’s-eye, winning first place by just four votes.

The Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off is one of the most popular events of Maine Restaurant Week, which concludes today. It’s a benefit for Preble Street, a nonprofit that provides services to low-income and homeless residents of the Portland area.

Friday’s event raised $4,000 and attracted a sell-out crowd of 300 to Sea Dog Brewing Co., which has hosted the competition since it started in 2010. Britt said that this year, for the first time, some people offered donations for Preble Street on top of their $17 ticket price.

The cook-off is a chance for the public to sample breakfast dishes from a variety of Maine restaurants. It attracts an eclectic crowd of breakfast fans, from friends who have their own breakfast clubs to a man who drives up from Massachusetts every year just to attend the event.

Nine restaurants participated this year, serving up everything from corned beef hash to a bacon-cheddar biscuit sandwich topped with a sunny-side up quail egg and balsamic tomato-pancetta jam.

People voted for their favorites by giving out Mardi Gras-style beaded necklaces.

Colleen Kelley of Silly’s in Portland served Hippy Hippy French Toast, a dish made of chocolate French toast with peanut butter sauce, whipped cream and pretzels, dusted with cocoa and malted milk powder.

“We thought this would be fun because it’s based on a milkshake, and because I’m not so known for breakfast (even though) we serve breakfast all day long,” Kelley said. “Plus, it’s fun to say Hippy Hippy French Toast.”

Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells brought a six-pound whoopie pie, as well as its famous cheeseburger doughnuts — chocolate doughnuts slathered with cream cheese, put between two halves of a plain doughnut “bun.”

Savory dishes included pulled chicken crepes with Mornay sauce and local greens from Petite Jacqueline in Portland, a newcomer to the cook-off.

There was more suspense than usual this year as Kostopolous and Reed Gordon racked up enormous numbers of necklaces.

Kostopoulos’ championship French toast is made with French bread that’s soaked overnight in a cream-eggs-sugar mixture. She puts a little brown sugar and Grand Marnier at the bottom of the pan before baking. The dish is topped with loads of fresh fruit.

Kostopoulos said she briefly considered entering a different dish, “but it seemed silly.”

“I’m going for a dynasty,” she said.

The Gordons almost toppled that dynasty with a well-placed shot of homemade maple syrup.

“Well deserved,” said Ron Bucknam of Seattle as he handed a string of beads to Reed Gordon. “Best of the whole bunch.”

The Gordons’ entry was Sea Dog Pumpkin Ale pancakes, topped with cinnamon and brown sugar butter, served with maple syrup made by father and son from trees in their backyard in Saco.

Bucknam, who is visiting friends in this area, said he liked The Good Table’s creme brulee French toast as well, but found its sweetness “cloying.”

Tim Seekamp of Portland gave one of his necklaces to Kostopolous and one to Reed, splitting his votes. He said the Gordons’ pancakes were “amazing.”

“And it’s funny because I’m not really a sweets type of person,” Seekamp said. “I would never go out and order pancakes.”

Kostopoulos indicated that the unexpectedly close vote would keep her on her toes next year.

“That kid is coming after me,” she said.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]