Mideast’s young culinary stars get a boost in global cooking competition

DUBAI: Not many competitions attempt this scale — finding the best young chef in the whole world, whittled down from thousands of hopefuls. But the San Pellegrino Young Chef Competition has managed to do just that in the three years of its existence, providing a platform to the best “one-to-watch” chefs’ to propel their careers forward.
According to Andrea Cavani, zone manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa for San Pellegrino, “with our long-established link with haute cuisine, our aim is to identify the next generation of talent, support them and also enable bonding with existing talent.”
With the aim of comprehensively covering the globe, the competition is divided into 21 zones, each of which picks a winner who then battles it out with their fellow regional winners in the grand finale, which takes place in Milan.
This year, the Middle East and Africa region cook-off took place in Dubai for the first time — they were held in South Africa in previous years — with the ten shortlisted chefs from the zone presenting their signature dish to a local judging panel (all entrants are required to submit a dish concept and recipe in the initial stage, which are evaluated to select the semifinalists from each region). Regional semifinals are being held in the different zones until December 2017 with the grand finale to be held in May 2018. The chefs’ dishes are judged according to the criteria of ingredients; skill; genius; beauty and message.
Four chefs from across the GCC made it into this year’s semifinal: Chef Aditya Kumar Jha from Tamba Abu Dhabi; Chef Mario Christianto from The Exchange Grill, Dubai; Chef Nigel Lobo from The Eloquent Elephant, Dubai and Sous Chef Jorge Alexis Falcon Valera from Cantina Kahlo in Bahrain. The rest of the complement was made up of chefs from South Africa, with the winner also emerging from South Africa this year.
Victorious chef Vusumuzi, from The Saxon Hotel Villas and SPA, had this to say: “Winning the regional competition of this magnitude is a big thing. I think the message other chefs can get from this is that if you push and try really hard, you can make things happen for yourself.”
Probably the biggest benefit for each finalist (regional winner) is the mentorship they receive in the run up to the final competition — each finalist is paired with a world-renowned senior chef, including the likes of Dominique Crenn, and Peter Gilmore, to name just two, to perfect not only their dish for the competition, but overall skills too. Plus of course, they get to serve their food to some of the world’s best-known chefs running Michelin starred restaurants – from Elena Arzak, to Gaggan Anand (both of whom were judges at the 2016 competition, in which Dubai chef Grégoire Berger represented the Middle East & Africa region).
This just goes to show that while winning is a good thing, just getting to be a part of such a prestigious global competition is an important shot in the arm for up-and-coming chefs.
“Competitions like this challenge you as a chef,” said Nigel Lobo, one of the Middle East semifinalists. “They give you great experience, and push you to think out of the box.”
The jury clearly agrees. “We saw an extremely high standard across the board, which continues to grow each year of the competition,” said Sascha Triemer, vice president of food and beverage at Atlantis the Palm Dubai and member of the regional judging panel. “And while it was a close call, the winning dish was selected for its uniqueness. With some tweaking with the mentor, I believe it would stand a great chance of coming out on top in the end. This region has developed immensely over the years, particularly in certain areas or cities.”
The high levels displayed in the Middle East leg of the competition is ample evidence of the fact that the region’s culinary industry is slowly but surely coming of age, indicating that the next generation of chefs may come from parts of the world that were not on the gastronomy map before.


San Pellegrino


cooking competition

Middle East

Source link : http://www.arabnews.com/node/1199841/food-health

Author : rbksa

Publish date : 27 November 2017 | 7:43 am

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