The Euro Asia final in the fourth edition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef took place in October 2019, with an outstanding show of talent from some of the most exciting young chefs in Russia, Finland, Lithuania and Estonia.
Following a charged day of competitive cooking, Vitalii Savelev was crowned the winner after wowing the judges with his signature dish of "Black Sea Rapa with Mushrooms grown on lemon peels" and will have the privilege of representing the region at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Finale in Milan in 2020.
The victorious young chef was not alone in his win, joined on stage by three other young chefs awarded during the award ceremony. Each recognised for the stand out elements in their signature dish highlighting the transformative power of gastronomy and its impact beyond the kitchen, with the following awards:
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 their winning dishes and their hopes for the future of gastronomy;
Vitali Savalev, winner of the Euro Asia final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019/20
Signature dish: Black Sea Rapa with Mushrooms grown on lemon peels
Why do you think that your dish can win the Grand Final?
My dish is built around a fresh and unconventional idea.
How will you work with your mentors to improve your dish for the finale?
My world mentor Adrian Ketglas and my mentors Ivan and Sergey Berezutsky have already participated and won in world competitions and they will be able to prepare me for the finals like no other.
What is your professional dream?
I dream of becoming a mentor someday.
Egor Makarov (Moscow), Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award winner
Signature dish: "Russian Seafood"
What does your dish represent about Russian cuisine?
In my dish, I want to concentrate on several ingredients that are popular in various regions of Russia. One of the tasks I set for myself in this dish was to highlight the taste of every ingredient, to couple them with root vegetables and pay homage to classical Russian cuisine.
Using various cooking techniques, I made something totally new and trendy. This dish reflects the way I see modern Russian cuisine.
What's the inspiration behind the dish?
It took me around half a year to find the right product for my dish among a rich variety of seafood in Russia. I draw inspiration from my childhood memories: a taste of the Omul, that surpassed every expectation, a nice aftertaste of Kamchatckan shrimp, exceptionally aromatic Black Sea mussels and an unforgettable lingering savour of cod liver. Those products compelled me to create this dish. The hardest part was to combine seafood with root vegetables that have been always widely used in Russia
Lari Helenius (Finland), Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy
Signature dish: "Different parts of cod, grilled butter, jellied oyster, crispy "muesli" made of grains and cod skin and creamy fish sauce"
Tell us more about the ingredients that make up your dish?
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. I used cod seasoned with grilled butter, which fits with meaty fish very well. I add some delicious, juicy oysters to make the flavour profile more powerful. Smooth cauliflower is a friend of seafood. And the world's best potatoes come from Finish Lapland, I had to use those ones also with the smoked cod belly.
What are your professional dreams for the future?
I would like to see the culinary culture rising in Finland. More and more restaurants all around Finland, from high-end restaurants to very easy going restaurants. Of course, my dream is open a restaurant, I don´t know yet is it going to be high end or a casual place with delicious food and drinks. But sure thing is that it will lean towards nordic cuisine.
Ivan Kamenev (Moscow), winner of the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility
Signature dish: "I found that in the garden"
Why do you think you won the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility?
I believe that happened because I managed to create a dish which was not only rich in taste and flavour but can also support the health of a person. The ingredients which were included in the dish possess high nutritional value and healing potential. Also, some of the ingredients are used quite rarely now, so when found myself as part of the chain that brings these products from farmers gardens to the table I feel that main idea of my dish what called "I found that in the garden" was realised in the best way.
What are the most valuable sustainable practices to adopt as a chef, in your opinion?
The main idea is to respect what we can receive from nature, then we can learn the new smart ways of working. And that's good if we are curious and open to new ideas - go to the market, farms, fields or forests and search for something new. That's important to realize, that before product gets to our kitchen it has to take a long journey and a lot human and nature efforts were applied, so we should be grateful for that every time.