As the excitement builds in the final months before the grand final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2021, we take the opportunity to highlight the young chef winners of the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy, an award designed to emphasise the growing trend in global gastronomy of 'chefs without borders'.
Each of the twelve young chef award winners highlighted below was voted for by local mentors during the regional finals for their ability to connect different cultures on a plate. Here's a reminder of their winning signature dishes and what they, or their dish, represents.
S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2021: Acqua Panna Award Winners
James Bond-Kennedy, Australia
Signature dish: "Great Ocean Duck and its Seasonal Feed”
Head chef at Igni Restaurant in CBD Geelong, Australia, James Bond-Kennedy is the regional Acqua Panna Award winner for the Pacific region.
"The connection between the cultures of farming and cooking, though obviously never totally disparate, is one that I believe can have much deeper, far-reaching consequences for the future of cooking, if brought back to being the norm."
Tor Aik Chua, Singapore
Signature dish: "Whole Kinmedai with Malaysian Elements"
Tor Aik Chua from Restaurant Zén in Singapore was the Acqua Panna Award winner of the Asia regional final.
"I used to work at Noma, the idea of nose-to-tail and how to be more sustainable are the foundations of my cooking."
Óscar Dayas Rodríguez, Spain
Signature dish: "The Transhumance from the Coast, to the Summit"
Óscar Dayas Rodríguez from Gran Canaria in Spain was the Acqua Panna Award winner of the Iberian & Mediterranean Region final.
"I believe that gastronomy has the ability to tear down borders and when you believe in gastronomy as something global, it is much easier, especially when an international brand like S.Pellegrino gives us this opportunity."
Abraham Almazan, Mexico
Signature dish: "A day in the Sierra Negra"
Abraham Almazan, the chef of the Culinary Institute of Mexico (ICUM) in Puebla, Mexico, was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Latin America heat.
"I want my plate to say 'this is Mexico', a mouthful of our land, a breath of a Mexican field, where all the magic begins, before the kitchen crop."
Łukasz Moneta, Poland
Signature dish: "Sturgeon and Snails"
Łukasz Moneta from Nolita Restaurant in Warsaw, Poland was the regional Acqua Panna Award winner in the Central Europe final.
"I love to see smiles on the faces of people trying my dishes, it doesn't matter if it’s a guest in the restaurant, my grandmother or my girlfriend, I just love to cook for people."
Lari Helenius, Finland
Signature dish: "Different Parts of Cod, Grilled Butter, Jellied Oyster, Crispy 'muesli' Made of Grains and Cod Skin and Creamy Fish Sauce"
Lari Helenius was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Euro Asia regional final.
"I like to use all the parts of the main ingredient. So in this dish, I used cod's loin, belly, skin and bones. And every part makes this dish complete with different textures."
Vivien Rouleaud, France
Signature dish: "Beginning of Spring... Squab returns!"
Vivien Rouleaud was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the North West Europe regional final.
"My dish is prepared with local products, it is a zero waste dish that represents my philosophy to work every element to the end."
Elissa Abou Tasse, Lebanon
Signature dish: "Adam's Garden"
Elissa Abou Tasse was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Africa & Middle East regional final.
"Adam’s garden shines a spotlight on recreating history and cultures. Trespassing with a very unique show of creativity whilst using some very well-known products/techniques, yet rarely used in the world of gastronomy. Highlighting many neglected techniques or essential elements, such as fire."
Tommaso Tonioni, Italy
Signature dish: "Lol 'Eel' Pop - Honey from the Beach & Potatoes from the Lake"
"I believe that the cornerstone of this award was to present a dish with so much philosophy, with a connection starting from a problem, that of bees, and using all the ingredients that the bee produces, from wax to pollen and honey, transforming them with modern techniques."
Jeremy Stephens, New Orleans
Signature dish: "Crawfish Boil"
Jeremy Stephens was the young chef Acqua Panna Award winner in the North America regional final.
"My culture resonates through stories, many told with food. It’s my job to continue to tell those stories appropriately."
Timothée Martin-Nadaud, London
Signature dish: "The World Is Your Oyster"
Timothée Martin-Nadaud, senior sous-chef at Kitchen Table, London was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the UK & North Europe regional final.
"Your way of cooking will be always different because everyone has a different background, knowledge, culture, origins. So your ways of cooking will be always unique."
Ho Lam Shek, Hong Kong
Signature dish: "Stuffed and Marinated Chinese Golden Thread Bream, Fermented Grains, Celtuce, Chenpi Oil"
Ho Lam Shek, senior cook at Hong Kong Club, was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Greater China regional final.
"I believe that most traditional food allows the ingredients to shine. Water is very important for health and the dishes I created included a Cantonese traditional soup, with water as the main ingredient."