Chefs Chantel Dartnall, Meryem Cherkaoui and Christopher Lester have been named as the Middle East and Africa’s jury members for the local selection of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 - the global talent search to find the world’s best young chef.
They will select one finalist from their region to join nineteen other regional finalists from around the world at the Grand Final in Milan in October 2016.
Head chef, Chantel Dartnall, of Restaurant Mosaic, South Africa, will step up to the plate as mentor for the region sharing her expertise with the talented young regional winner guiding them up until the grand finale.
Dartnall was formally trained at Prue Leith College of Food and Wine in Centurion before working under chef Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico, London and Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park, Devon, UK. She is now responsible for her own kitchen and team in the award winning Pretoria restaurant, Mosaic. Dartnall believes there are only a few basic fundamentals when it comes to being a chef including ‘passion, consistency and simplicity.’ Her culinary approach to food includes close attention to ‘flavour, texture, beauty and elegance,’ which are all points on which the young chef's dishes will be assessed.
Moroccan born, chef, restaurateur and educator, Meryem Cherkaoui joins the team from Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech. She combines French culinary techniques learnt at the Institut Paul Bocuse as well as at some of the country’s most prestigious hotels and uses produce from local suppliers and vegetables grown in their organic garden to create modern interpretations of classic Moroccan recipes.
Finalising the trio of jurists is British-born executive chef and restaurant consultant Christopher Lester bringing more than 30 years hospitality industry experience to the team. Lester has honed his culinary skills at some of the most prestigious dining establishments in the world, including London's Savoy Hotel,The Dorchester Hotel and The Ivy, as well being senior executive sous chef at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. In his current role as executive chef with JRG Dubai he has direct culinary responsibility for over 60 restaurants and bars and 500 chefs in a range of world class food and beverage outlets in his endless pursuit of culinary excellence.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.