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The deadline to register for S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019/2020 is fast approaching! If you are aged 30 or under and you are a chef, sous chef or chef de partie with at least one year of experience in the kitchen, you have until 30 April to submit your application (find the registration details here).
S.Pellegrino Young Chef believes in the power of gastronomy to impact society for the better and represents a real engine for change: to do so however, the competition must enliste the most promising young chefs around the world!
What characteristics should the next S.Pellegrino Young Chef have? Technical skills, of course, creativity but above all a strong personal philosophy: the same one that will allow the winner to transmit his/her message through their dish.
"We believe in the value of inclusion, be it geographical or gender - explained Paolo Passoni, Head of international relations S.Pellegrino/Acqua Panna during a recent event at Identità Hub Milano presenting the S.Pellegrino Young Chef jury for Italy. "We are encouraging girls to participate, and we aim to involve at least 50 countries around the world."
5 Top Tips for S.Pellegrino Young Chef Candidates
If you are thinking about joining the competition, and have yet to apply, here are 5 valuable tips straight from the mouths of those who have already been involved in past editions.
1. Believe in Yourself and Get Involved!
The first tip comes from female chef Cristina Bowerman from Glass Hostaria in Rome and mentor of Italian finalist Paolo Griffa in the 2015 edition of S. Pellegrino Young Chef. "I always thought this was a democratic competition. Often women - but all of us in reality - don't find the courage to expose ourselves and get involved: this competition gives anyone the chance to dream, it's a competition that focuses on the recipe, regardless of who you are. His/her career is the expression of what he/she is."
Elizabeth Puquio Landeo, the Latin American finalist of S.Pellegrino Youg Chef 2018 and winner of the Fine Dining Lovers People's Choice Award 2018, also speaks up for female competitors: “For me, it was a fundamental educational experience, I travelled a lot and met many professionals. It is important that my participation is an example for other women in gastronomy, given that they are always few."
Elizabeth Puquio Landeo, photo credit ©H2BSTUDIO
2. Choose ingredients that represent you
The winner of last year's S.Pellegrino Young Chef, Japanese chef Yasuhiro Fujio, remembers the importance of the choice of strictly seasonal and characteristic ingredients: "I used ayu fish, which is found only in Japan for two months of the year: a humble fish, which represents my country of origin ", he explains. "Present something that you feel inside you, that you care about a lot and with which you can express yourself to the best, but above all, value your country to win over the international jury," adds Edoardo Fumagalli, Italian finalist of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018.
Yasuhiro Fujio and Edoardo Fumagalli, photo credit ©H2BSTUDIO
3. Practice your communication skills
Those who participate - must do so with a view to reaching the final, so it is important to pay close attention to your communication skills. "My suggestion for everyone is to study English, because only in this way can you best convey your thoughts to the international jury: it is an aspect that should not be underestimated," said Alessandro Rapisarda, Italian finalist in 2016.
Alessandro Rapisarda, photo credit ©H2BSTUDIO
4. Explain who you are with your dish
"If I had an opportunity like this thirty years ago, my career would probably have been different," said chef Davide Oldani recalling how at the time of his apprenticeship with Gualtiero Marchesi the possibilities to get out of the kitchen and learn about the world could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Three Italian chef mentors from previous editions: Davide Oldani, Cristina Bowerman and Anthony Genovese
And just as the chef of D'O, mentor of Alessandro Rapisarda in 2016, invites the aspiring S.Pellegrino Young Chef to expose themselves, always keeping their feet firmly planted on the ground, Anthony Genovese, mentor of Edoardo Fumagalli, reiterates that it is important to transmit a defined identity of their country of origin. "The identity that emerges from the dish must be strong, because it is a fundamental theme: in 2018 we probably didn't focus enough on this aspect," he says.
5. Research your ingredients and fall in love with them
Matteo Berti, Alma's educational director, also imparts some invaluable advice: the Colorno chef school in Italy will assess all the recipes sent in by the young chef candidates. A complicated yet fundamental part of the selection process with a dedicated team of 50 people (which always includes some women and a pastry chef, who focuses on the visual aspect of the dish).
"Among the parameters we consider to select the finalists are the food cost of the recipe, the sustainability of the product and the seasonality", explained Berti. "The main advice I want to give to competitors is to avoid an ingredient or a produced only because it is tied to the memory of what grandma prepared for you. Go to the historical roots of an ingredient and fall in love with it: this means culture and sustainability, but also to maximize a product."
Added to this is the fact that Alma has a real "historical" commission that evaluates the culture of products, demonstrating how study and knowledge can become central to the construction of a recipe.
Good luck to all the aspiring S.Pellegrino Young Chefs!