The winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Award 2022-23 regional final for South-East Europe has been announced, and it is Grigoris Kikis, representing Greece.
Kikis impressed the local judges - Jeffrey J Vella, Avivit Priel Avichai, Georgianna Hiliadaki, Nikos Roussos, Iwona Niemczewska and Oana Coantă - with his dish, ‘The Story of Cod’, which also won the Fine Dining Lovers Food For Thought Award, as voted for by FDL’s readers.
The young chef, who will now go forward to represent the region at the Grand Finale in Milan, said about his victory: “First of all, I’m so happy because I’m part of this family. The SP Academy is amazing and very important for me because I’m a very young chef, and the support is something very important for me, and I feel good. That’s it.”
“I applied four times, and now to win...,” he said. “Never give up your dreams, I’m very happy, really.”
Describing his winning dish, Kikis explained that he wanted to put a modern spin on a Greek classic.
“Through 'The Story of Cod', I wanted to give a modern twist to a traditional Greek recipe and products that are a part of every table in Greece. The goal was to showcase Greek gastronomic culture through a combination of tradition and modernity,” he said.
“Wanting to highlight the quality of Greek products, I chose to include ingredients found all over Greece. The message I wanted to convey was that complexity can occur through simple things, and that we should get inspired by our roots and history.”
Other awards were given out at the ceremony, including the S.Pellegrino Social Responsibility Award. It went to Žiga Koprivc, from Slovenia, for his dish, 'Just the Two of Us'.
“It’s a great pleasure,” said Koprivc.” I’m really happy but it’s also a big responsibility to win this award. I really need to step up and do as I told them (the jury) and I really need to be the one that makes the change. If not me, who else will do the change? We all need to make less waste. When you know what the problem is, it’s easier to find the solution.”
The winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award went to Ivan Tartaro. He was born to Croatian parents and raised in New York City, but recently returned to Croatia two and a half years ago.
“I think it’s definitely a very overwhelming feeling,” said Tartaro about the win. “I’m very surprised, but I did take a very big leap of faith moving back to a country that I’d practically never lived in. I did kind of follow my ancestry and my heritage to move back to a place that was very unknown to me.“
Fonio is the all-but-forgotten African grain that could pep up your cooking and save the world, according to chef Pierre Thiam. Kiki Aranita went to watch him in action, and spoke to him about this ancient ingredient.
Robin Wagner has been crowned the best young chef in Australia and New Zealand, alongside other competition award winners, Alexis Belmas, Jackson Mehlhopt and Leidy Carolina Maldonado Ramirez. Find out more.