The Africa and Middle East regional competition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef took place on 14 October, with an outstanding show of talent from some of the most exciting young chefs from United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, South Africa and Turkey.
Paul Thinus Prinsloo was crowned the winner after wowing the panel of professional chef judges with his "Bouillabaisse 2.0" 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 chef de partie from The Restaurant at Waterkloof in Cape Town was not alone in his victory, and was joined on stage by three other notable young chefs during the award ceremony. Each recognised for the stand out elements in their signature dishes 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 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.
Paul Thinus Prinsloo, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019 winner in Africa and Middle East
Chef de partie, 'The Restaurant At Waterkloof' - Cape Town, South AfricaSignature Dish: Bouillabaisse 2.0
Why do you think your dish could win the Grand Finale?
I would say the flavours of the dish are fantastic, along with the skills and techniques that are being used, which will allow me to stand a chance of winning the final.
How will you collaborate with your mentor (Gregory Czarnecki) in order to perfect your dish for the Grand Finale in Milan next year?
I'll keep on practising and perfecting the imperfections that he notices, and just keep on following his advice.
What are your professional dreams or aspirations?
Professional dreams, I would say opening my own restaurant and making a success out of it. Aspirations, working hard and trying to do my best at next years grand finale.
Elissa Abou Tasse, Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy Winner
Chef de partie, 'Ritage by Maroun Chedid' - Beirut, LebanonSignature Dish: Adam's Garden
Why do you think you won the Acqua Panna for connection in gastronomy award?
The expectation was to bring the flavors of my culture and the story of my Lebanon and the Levantine and regarding what this award represents, Adam’s garden was a spotlight on recreating history and cultures. Trespassing with a very unique show of creativity within using some very well-known products/techniques yet rarely used in the world of gastronomy. Highlighting many neglected techniques or essential elements, such as fire, to begin with this very euphoric scene of fire is an art by itself where the flames make love together and multiply until we hear their dazzling voice where the product lays on it until it rests. My inspiration for Adam’s garden is projected to be inspirational but its dimensions and indirect messages, in my opinion, pushed me to win this award.
How is it possible to create a mix of different cultures creating something new?
It’s amazing how am I writing this answer where mainly the outcome is the results of mixing different cultures while we are having this marvelous revolution in my country Lebanon. We celebrated independence day a few days ago from the French colonization in the middle of our revolution where we did have our independence for other colonization and many countries that have merged in the results of this but still not having the true independence from the results of the internal corruption taking over. You see, evolution is a natural and spontaneous happening which created spontaneous results where cultural mix and match is an essential element in the evolution of any culture. But as chefs or creative ones we see that this historical event that has been implemented for centuries and generate a dish where we remind you with a flashback of memories yet unforgettable experience.
Callan Austin, S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility Winner
Chef de partie, 'Le Coin Francais' - Franschhoek, South AfricaSignature Dish: The Ghost Net
Why do you think you won the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility?
When I entered the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition I knew that I wanted to create a dish that told an important story and embodied sustainability. I was reading about Ghost Nets online and realise that it is quite an obscure phenomenon not many people knew about. It really made me think about how many other potential threats to our planet are out there that we simply aren't aware of. I conceptualised the Ghost Net to educate people on the matter and I believe that my dish truly spoke about sustainability, from my concept to my locally foraged, sourced, sustainable ingredients.
What are the most valuable sustainable practices to adopt as a chef, in your opinion?
To completely sustainable is extremely hard, especially in a commercial kitchen. You need to be clever in how you go about operating your kitchen. Find intuitive ways to reduce plastic waste and excessive water use. Collaborate with local suppliers to source sustainable and ethical produce, and find ways to utilise your food waste in fertilizers to give back to your suppliers. The goal is to create a successful cycle through mindfulness in the workplace.
Marcus Gericke, Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award Winner
Sous chef, 'Qunu At The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa' - Johannesburg, South AfricaSignature Dish: Remembrance (Quail Consomme)
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?
To win this Fine Dining Lovers Food For Thought Award has been an honour, spending my younger years as a chef learning, perfecting my skills and knowledge, overcoming challenges my father faced as a chef and occasionally finding and taking a different path along the way to understand reason.
For me turning my ideas and beliefs into my dish for the competition, is my cooking foundation. This foundation was instilled in me, from a very young age as a chef, having worked on different techniques and flavours together with my father.
Being able to perfect them alongside my mentor in this competition Chef Candice Philip, has enabled me to push the envelope of simplistic flavours coming to the fore.
This dish is my food for thought -"Remembrance" - It resonates my fathers instilled beliefs as a chef to "Keep it Simple" it is the best way to honour and keep my old man smiling...
He inspires me daily to reach for my dreams, remain humble and above all to KEEP IT SIMPLE!