The Latin America regional final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019/2020 came to an exciting climax on 17 September in Peru's capital city, Lima with chef Cynthia Xrysw Ruelas Diaz being crowned regional champion.
The 25-year-old chef from Xokol restaurant in Guadalajara, Mexico, managed to defeat 14 other hopeful young chefs from Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile Colombia and Mexico and will go on to defend the colours of the region at the World Grand Final, to be held in May 2020 in Milan.
Diaz was not alone in her victory, she was joined by three other special young chefs awarded for the stand out elements in their dishes and their interpretation of gastronomy for doing good in the world;
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 f
For the young chef best representing his personal beliefs through his dish.
We found out more from each of the four award winners, as they enjoy their respective wins and reflect on their ambitions ahead of the Grand Finale in Milan in 2020!
Cynthia Xrysw Ruelas Diaz, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019 for Latin America
Chef from Xokol restaurant in Guadalajara, Mexico
Signature Dish: "Milpa Y Mar"
Why do you think your dish could win the Grand Finale?
For the authenticity of its ingredients and techniques and for what they mean for Latin American culture and what it can mean for the whole world. It's also a dish that conveys that respect towards communities and the environment.
How will you collaborate with your mentor in order to perfect your dish for the Grand Finale in Milan next year?
I will collaborate with my global mentor assigned to me but also with my regional mentor (Francisco Ruano) practising the dish in order to perfect timings and techniques.
What are your professional dreams or aspirations?
I have many dreams about gastronomy and how much impact it could have on the world. I mean I dream as a professional that I would like to have a centre of investigation of the techniques in my country, of ingredients and to transmit that to everyone and as Mexicans, revalorize our origin. Also, I would like to have a restaurant in which we could express all this. I think through cooking we can change the world in a good way. But I don’t know they’re only my thoughts.
Eliodoro Xicum, Fine Dining Lovers Food For Thought Award Winner
Chef from Restaurant La Villa in Mérida, Mexico
Signature dish: Nohoch Ná (Gizzards Tamale With Cooked In Ash)
This prize is for the young chef who best represents their personal belief within their dish: how did you
transform your ideas into a dish?
I have worked as a chef in hotels and restaurants, but my belief was formed by the experience I had while working in the Mayan communities. My dish "Tamal Nohoch Ná" shows this cuisine of techniques, ingredients, preparations of a Mexico of roots indigenous people who cry out to be taken into account, S. Pellegrino Young Chef is the platform that has given voice to a dish that is made with the essence of my Yucatecan Mayan people. There is much to do, but I think we are on the right track.
Sebastián Pinzón Giraldo, S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility Winner
Celele Restaurante by Proyecto Cribe Lab in Cartagena, Columbia
Signature dish: Cured Fish "Jurel" with Green Mango Spaghetti, Lacto Fermented Mandarin Lemon And Cold Infusion Of Sour Guava.
Why do you think you won the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility?
As a Chef in charge of the sustainable process and research of Celele Restaurant, I believe this award is an acknowledgement to be coherent with the philosophy we been promoting with our personal project called “Proyecto Caribe Lab” and the dishes we serve at Celele restaurant. Since the beginning, we were focused on using and cooking with only local ingredients, not only to show the people that the Colombian Caribbean cuisine is more than fried fish, coconut rice and green plantain chips; but also, to be part of the global movement of the “0 kilometers philosophy” and the “slow food thinking”. We are very conscious of the global environments issues we are carrying, and want to be a little part of the change!
What are the most valuable sustainable practices to adopt as a chef, in your opinion?
The most valuable sustainable practices that a chef have to start adopting, is to create a real ambient awareness and understand all the environmental problems humans generate to earth, and realize that the most important thing is start to be
coherent from home, through our restaurants kitchen and family staff.
Abraham Almazán, Acqua Panna Award for Gastronomy Winner
Chef of the Culinary Institute of Mexico (ICUM) in Puebla, Mexico
Signature dish: A Day in the Sierra Negra
Why do you think you won the Acqua Panna for connection in Gastronomy award?
We are a history full of tradition and culture, not only is it a country, it is rich in flavour, ingredients, preparations, we must preserve our root and above all, bring our culture to the whole world, I want to demonstrate that we can merge tradition and modernity, techniques From our ancestors with current techniques, I want to try my plate, let's say this is Mexico, a mouthful of our land, a breath of daily space in a Mexican field, where all the magic begins, before the kitchen crop