Following a day of competitive cooking chef Rafael Covarrubias, of Hexagon Restaurant in Oakville, Ontario has been crowned the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Competition North American Regional final by an esteemed jury of chef judges.
Chef Covarrubias will now have six months to hone his skills and perfect his signature dish "Mole Negro Spiced Muscovy Duck, Preserved Prune, and Winter Roots" with the help of his mentor Connie DeSousa of CHARCUT Roast House in Calgary, Alberta. In May 2020 he will face the ultimate challenge when he competes against the other 11 global finalists at the Grand Finale in Milan, Italy.
Chef Covarrubias achieved top marks for his technical skills, genuine creativity and an exceptional personal belief about gastronomy from the panel of judges including Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson of CHARCUT Roast House, Rob Gentile of Buca Restaurants, food writer and author Jordana Rothman, and Michael Solomonov of Zahav.
Speaking of his win the twenty-five-year-old chef said: “I came to Canada from Mexico for the pure love of cooking, and I’m so honoured to represent North America on a global culinary stage in Milan. I’ve met so many hardworking, talented chefs on this journey and I hope to inspire others to push themselves past their comfort zones to achieve their goals.”
In addition to the regional winner, three new awards were introduced this year at the competition, reflecting S.Pellegrino’s belief in the transformative power of gastronomy and its impact beyond the kitchen:
Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy
Voted by the Regional Mentors, the winner of this award will produce a dish that represents diversity and recognises the beauty of different cultures coming together to create something fresh and exciting.
Winner: Chef Jeremy Stephens from New Orleans, Louisiana with his signature dish, Crawfish Boil.
Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award
Voted by the online Fine Dining Lovers community, this award will be for the young chef who best represents their personal belief within their dish.
Winner: Chef Marvin Palomo of Oakville, Ontario with his signature dish, Dungeness Crab Chowanmushi.
S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility
Voted by Food Made Good, the internationally recognized voice on Sustainability in food, this dish will represent the principle that that food is best when it is the result of sustainable practices.
Winner: Chef Kathryn Ferries of Ottawa, Ontario with her signature dish, Forest Honey Glazed Rabbit Ballotine with Fennel Chanterelles and Mustard Greens.