The Central Euope final of the fourth edition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef took place on 23 September in Hamburg, with an outstanding show of talent from some of the most exciting young chefs in Germany, Poland, Hungary and Ukraine.
Levente Koppány, was crowned the winner after wowing the judges with his "Rainbow trout with chervil, forest mushrooms and wild garlic signature dish" and will have the honour of representing the region at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Finale in 2020 in Milan in 2020.
The sous chef from Salon Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary was not alone in his victory, joined on stage by three other notable young chefs during the award ceremony. Three notable chefs highlighting the transformative power of gastronomy and its impact beyond the kitchen, as follows:
S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility
For the dish that best reflects the principles of socially responsible practices
Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy
For the chef able to connect several cultures through his dish
Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thoughts Award
For the young chef best representing his/her personal beliefs through his/her dish.
We spoke to each of the four award winners to find out more about them and their dishes as they prepare for the biggest challenge of their career, in the S.Pellegrino Grand Finale.
Levente Koppány, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019 Central Europe Regional Winner
Signature dish: "Rainbow trout with chervil, forest mushrooms and wild garlic"
Why do you think your dish could win the Grand Finale in 2020?
I didn’t think about it yet. I focused on the regional final. Hopefully, my dish will win there, so I think yes, I could win. I'm gonna do my best for sure!
How will you collaborate with your mentor in order to perfect your dish for the final?
We haven’t talked about yet. András Wolf was my mentor in the regional final, but in the final going to be someone else. I don’t know yet. András will help us too.
What are your professional dreams/aspirations?
One day, I would like to open my own place. Where I want to really focus on my suppliers. I am lucky because I already have great partners. They also work hard to do their best. quality, not quantity. I think this is the most important thing when you re cooking. good and fresh products.
Krzysztof Konieczny, Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award winner
Signature dish: Jerusalem Artichoke "Fish"
This prize is for the young chef who best represents their personal belief within their dish: What message does your dish tell?
I made a vegetarian dish using vegetables and techniques that I have used with meat, fishy topinambur, laurel parsnip puree and marinated salicornia, I was able to win the internship in a ** restaurant and in this competition I come back to it with still greater awareness.
Jana Stöger, S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility award winner
Signature Dish: As A Child In Tirol
Why do you think you won the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility?
I think my signature dish is not only a tribute to the time in Tyrol with my grandparents but also a call for regional purchasing. Each region offers a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits - and here many things that have almost been forgotten.
I think we as chefs also have an ecological responsibility and can be a positive role model with our kitchen style: Exciting basic products do not have to be flown in, there are also exciting products in the regional neighbourhood.
What are the most valuable sustainable practices to adopt as a chef, in your opinion?
Not just as a cook, in general: with open eyes and ears exploring the region where you live. Which products are native? What does the current season offer? And what can I possibly get from the farmer next door? You do not always have to use the most exotic fruit and the most complicated method to create an exciting dish.
Łukasz Moneta, Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy
Signature dish: Sturgeon And Snails
Why do you think you won the Acqua Panna award for the connection in gastronomy?
My dish represents my desire to give people great food, it doesn't matter if it's fine dining or simple food. I love to see smiles on the faces 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. This dish represents me at the moment my level of cooking. What l learn by now and want to show the polish cuisine and products all the gastronomy world.
How does this dish represent you?
For this dish, l use new techniques like confit in beeswax, because it gives fish naturally sweet flavours, and keeps it moist and tender after cooking. Using Polish ingredients to tune this dish like bison grass, larch, elderflower millet, wild herbs. This is my childhood fish what l love but in a modern and fine dining version. l want to show how l combine flavours and simple ingredients to create an original sophisticated dish. I'm very proud of this plate and l want to show you in the best way.