The Pacific regional final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2020 took place in Sydney, Australia on 26 August 2019 with Jose Lorenzo Morales from Lûmé in Melbourne being crowned the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Pacific Regional winner.
Following a challenging five-hour cook-off infront of a chef jury of big names like Peter Gilmore (Quay, Bennelong), Jock Zonfrillo (Restaurant Orana, Bistro Blackwood), Danielle Alvarez (Fred’s). Dan Hunter (Brae) and Christine Manfield(Leader in the culinary industry) Morales was picked as the winner to represent the region at the Grand Finale in 2020.
Morales was joined on stage by three other young chefs during the award ceremony, recognised for stand out elements s in their signature dish highlighting the transformative power of gastronomy and its impact beyond the kitchen:
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 spoke to each of the four award winners to find out what their win means to them and what they can add to the future of gastronomy.
José Lorenzo Morales, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019 Pacific region
Signature Dish: Analogy of roasted lechón pork belly, shrimp bogoong paste, pandan rice cracker, latik caramel, and tamarind powder
Mentor: John Rivera, Head chef at Lûmé in Melbourne
Why do you think your dish could win the Grand Finale in 2020?
I composed this dish simply because it's an opportunity for people to reflect on norms. It is through this dish that I was inspired to understand both the respect for tradition and how it can go further with the help of other cultural differences that my cuisine does not possess. This will be my way of proving not only to my country but to the whole world that things can simply be greater if we empower young minds to pursue a unified perspective.
How will you collaborate with your mentor in order to perfect your dish for the final?
We will be training to keep identifying each component to be sensitive to one another. We are both fervently driven to open up our minds to collaborate between our vulnerable points so we don’t miss out on anything for the competition and most importantly we may achieve to learn something from one another.
What are your professional dreams/aspirations?
My dream has always been to have a voice, the world is changing, the generation for significance and novelty is being a corrupt ideal for success. I stand passionate about having joy in my element of cooking but we are living in an endangered era, I want people to be aware of the fact that we can’t continue to ignore that our world is suffering from unsustainable decisions that is why I want this dish to win because its not just a dish that preserves our culture, it conveys a message about all of us on one plate helping each other to see the amazing gifts of nature and how we can help each other to conserve this so we can move forward.
Abhijit Dey, Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award
Sous Chef, SO Auckland (Auckland)
Signature Dish: Horopito cured wild venison cooked over kanuka wood, karamu berries and feijoa cream with celeriac and Melson Valley saffron reduction
Mentor: Marc de Passorio, SO Auckland
This prize is for the young chef who best represents their personal belief within their dish: how did you
transforme your ideas into a dish?
I was inspired by the small saffron growing community in Kashmir and their socio-economic struggle. Also, reflecting the Flora and fauna of New Zealand and its produce. The majority of the dish represents solid sustainable plant culture and its native organic growth throughout the island of New Zealand. Every ingredient I used represents a different island and its sustainability which motivates me to create something different.
Kezia Kristel, S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility
Chef de Partie, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar (Sydney)
Signature Dish: Experiencing mushrooms in flavours and savoury carrot tart
Mentor: Karen Doyle, Le Cordon Bleu
Why do you think you won the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility award?
First of all, I didn’t expect to receive this opportunity considering there are many chefs coming up with their brilliant and sustainable menu as well. However, I believe the main reason I won the S.Pellegrino award for Social Responsibility is because of the sustainable, simple, in season, bold, & different concept I bring. I concluded my presentation of my dish to the judges with the sentence of “maximum flavours & minimum wastage.”
In the sustainability aspect I tried to use almost all the parts of the vegetable in my dishes. Cooking it mostly in classical & simple ways to showcase the real flavours of the vegetable itself & using modern techniques to add extra flavours & reduce most of the wastage from these ingredients. Also in other aspects - the dish I presented it is all about celebrating the vegetable; its variations and its family. I found on most menus in many restaurants (either local or international) they often put vegetables as a components of a dish to support their protein, not the highlight of it. Or they only put it as an entrees & vegetarian options on main. I guess it concerned me a bit, therefore I think I want to create a really delicious sustainable vegetable main dish to showcase it, that simply could be enjoyed by everybody.
Which are the most valuable sustainable practices to adopt as chef, in your opinion?
Separate your bins; the food wastage one and the regular bin for mix waste. I guess this is one of the easiest practice & simple care in the kitchen we can do towards the environment.
Try to minimise food wastage by saving some parts of food that is edible for replacement of a component/special dish and for staff. I think cooking is not only about following the rules, but being creative and open towards positive change. This practice also is not as easy as it sounds especially on the busy big cover weekend, but this is applicable & help to create habit + awareness within the back of house team.
James Bond-Kennedy, Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy
Sous Chef, Restaurant IGNI (South Geelong, VIC)
Signature Dish: Great ocean duck, and its seasonal feed!
Mentor: Greg Clarke, Owner and Head Farmer of Great Ocean Road Duck
Why do you think you won the Acqua Panna for connection in Gastronomy award?
To be honest I was somewhat surprised to win the Connection in Gastronomy award, as it seemed to focus on the cross-cultural influences of the competitors’ dishes.
I was happy though when the close connection between me and my mentor, Greg the farmer of Great Ocean Ducks (as well as his family), seemed to be recognised and respected by my fellow competitors, their mentors and the judges of the competition. The relationship between myself and Greg, between farmer and cook, and its necessity in creating truly great food was something I wanted to highlight and the reason I chose Greg as my mentor instead of a chef. To have that relationship, and our work in growing the ducks for my dish, respected by the mentors voting for the award will remain a great point of pride for me.
If there is a reason for me winning the “Connection” award, I hope it was in recognition of the importance of the connection between the world of farming and the world of gastronomy, which, unless you are wholly willing to eat only nutrient supplements, are inseparable.
How is it possible to create a mix of different cultures creating something new?
Human history is nothing but a long experiment in cross-cultural exchange. There are a lot of ways to create something new by mixing different cultural influences, but for them to seem natural, or even objectively good, takes time and effort and self-reflection and the core of the cultural components being mixed.
I, like anyone, have influences from other cultures but in my dish, I never intended to highlight them, I didn’t seek to mix national or ethnic cultures. Instead, I focused on the connection between farmer and cook, on the possibility of closing the supply loop which surrounds anything we eat. That connection, to me, is far more important than focusing on any cultural link, or mixing of cooking influences. The connection of being able to have the food I serve alongside Greg’s ducks, not only be part of the menu, but also for the trimmings of the menu to be returned to the farm to become part of the feed of the next seasons’ ducks, that was the ultimate goal of my dish regardless of the outcome of the competition.
That is the cross-cultural connection that I believe can have a real impact. It is possible to create terribly, barely thought out, yet “new”, food with a mix of different cultures. Think about Ramen-burgers, Lab-seasoned mince in modified-atmosphere-packaging, the Doritos Locos Taco, or restaurants who make superficial attempts at the connection between themselves and the culture they are grafting onto themselves and their cooking, without thorough knowledge nor context.
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. Greg and I see that those connections used to be how almost everyone got their food, but for many different reasons, most people no longer see or appreciate them.