S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016: All the Action from Day 2 of the Grand Final
There might have been torrential rain outside, but it did little to dampen the efforts of the remaining 10 young chefs and their teams competing for S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016: they all were hard at work inside their respective kitchens at The Mall, since early morning, ready to present their dishes to the Seven Sages for tasting.
With the benchmark set on day one it was time for the second set of competitors to step up to the mark and produce their signature dishes in six hours cooking time. Meanwhile, those that had already cooked on day one were able to support from the sidelines as the anticipation built towards the end of the day and the awaited closing announcement was made; Spain & Portual, USA and France were declared the three finalists.
The three young chefs will now compete on the last day of the Grand Final, with just one young chef being crowned S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016.
First to take to the floor was the young Italian chef Andrea Miacola representing Benelux, with his rare rabbit, tomato and tulips dish with an emphasis on the nose to tail concept: “We tried to make a dish from all the parts of the rabbit.” With his calm and collected chef mentor David Martin by his side, he emphasised the surprising use of tulips. An interested jury were keen to ask questions of the young Italian chef and the unusual use of traditional and lesser known ingredients in a dish that managed to “combine different cultures and experiences” with Thai spicing – despite the chef admitting to never having been to Thailand.
An intrigued jury were quick to get to work with their smartphone cameras when presented with a transparent cabinet with a number of dangling mackerel fillets. Looking more like a contemporary art exhibit, the chefs good-humouredly shooed away other interested onlookers obscuring their shot. Whilst the "crazy and impressive," Shintaro Awa, as described by his French Mentor Yannick Alleno, struggled to articulate his story in English, the passion for his dish was clear. And having called France home for the last 13 years he said he hoped he could escort people to the French seaside, although he was diplomatically unable to commit to preferring France or Japan when pressed by Anand.
3. Germany & Austria
Karlheinz Hauser was a focused mentor as he did some final tasting and directing, as young chef Matthias Walter plated up in plenty of time. The young chef commented it had been a hard job to prepare his 'Shanghai duck' with the feathered protagonist of the signature dish arriving by car with him from Bavaria in Germany. Cooking with different techniques and being German, Walter was keen to emphasise the importance of the 'sweet sauce'. The other elements on the dish were sourced from all over the world, whilst his mentor was very satisfied with his focus and that he had done a good job bringing all the ingredients together.
4. Mediterranean Countries
Nicolaos Billis and mentor Olivier Campanha, who stepped into the role late in the competition were engaged in an intense last minute huddle finalising the last touches the signature dish 'Nostimon Imar'. Ahead of presenting the dish the young chef gave a booklet to each of the Seven Sages to explain the dish, which his mentor commented was a fantastic job on a dish with a 3,000 year old heritage. The three element dish with Palamida fish, raisin, and Tsigareli was received with smiles and positive noises from a content Mauro Colagreco.
Nikolaj Schmidt Skadborg and Danish mentor Christian Puglisi worked seamlessly as a team to deliver their dish with the unusual plating addition of a horn filled with mead, from which he asked the Seven Sages to drink. Drawing on Viking influences he referred to the dish simply as 'BBQ coleslaw with Nordic twist,’ which he thought everyone could relate to, but using solely Nordic ingredients. The patriotic chef believes Scandinavia has the best pork and dairy products and wanted to showcase them on the world stage and interpret what Vikings might have eaten, like food over fire, as well as preservation methods. His self-effacing, non-competitive mentor commented that he had learnt a lot from the young chef during the event and that he had done a great job as well as being a great ambassador for his region. The young chef commented that the competition has been fun and finished with a swig of mead!
Seira Furuya calmly and accurately assembled her Japanese seasons-themed dish under the watchful eye of her professional chef mentor Yoshihiro Narisawa. An impressive aromatic smoke filled the air when the duo arrived at the Seven Sages table with a whole duck on a bed of smoking twigs, which was served as slices onto each judge's plate with chopsticks. Furuya commented that she wanted to represent the Japanese tradition of eating duck, in which she had used the entire duck to represent the four seasons. "Please enter the four seasons of Japan with your mouth, your nose and eyes," she finished by saying. Her mentor commented that they struggled to find ingredients out of season.
7. East Europe
Rodrigo Sandor from East Europe arrived on the stage with a gallop with the final element of his dish – parsley oil that was then served to the seated chefs. The dish showcased Mangalica pork three ways along with caramelised cauliflower puree, raisin coulis and beetroot tortellini. Sandor's message was clear: he wanted to represent Hungary, where people like smoked food and pork, in his dish, as well as reminiscing on his mother’s childhood dishes. His relaxed mentor Adi Hadean, from neighbouring Romania, reflected that they have some shared history, but are from two very different cultures, however, when he tasted the dish "I felt like my mother just hugged me." He also highlighted that Mangalica pigs, which have a special taste and an interesting fattiness, were once a rare breed, but are slowly re-gaining popularity.
8. Spain & Portugal
It was cheerful hugs all round in the Spain and Portugal kitchen as a relaxed and smiling chef mentor Andoni Luis Aduriz looked on as young chef David Andres put the finishing touches to his dish well within his allotted time frame. Aduriz was keen to take to the stage to present the young chef who had not only studied architecture, but been a professional sportsman until a given time his grandma told him to keep his feet on the ground, hence the colourful shoes as a powerful reminder. Having entered the kitchen a total novice and now he’s a sous chef in one of the beset restaurants in Spain. ‘I’m really lucky' said Aduriz. Andres dish used only three main ingredients including 'Lamb, artichokes and pine from Spain' which all represented his origin. The young chef completed the serve with some impressive culinary theatre at the chef's table. ‘The lamb is amazing’ commented Mauro Colagreco with a final leaving comment of 'nice shoe's from chef Higgs.
Australian chef mentor Peter Gilmore cast a last watchful eye over Leslie Hottiaux's dish before service ensued. A final shave of Alba white truffle was added to each of the judges dishes at their table with a good-humoured Wylie kidding that he didn’t want any. Speaking of his young protege Gilmore commented that she "had a very wise head for a young chef" and added that she had succeeded in doing something simple and seasonal. Cracco gave a final thumbs up, as the duo left the stage.
10. Russia, Baltics, CIS
Hezret Berdiev had the daunting task of being the last of the finalists to present his dish of 'Summer in Siberia', to the Seven Sages. Mentor chef Vladimir Mukhin was keen to point out the young chef is from a land over 5000 kilometres from Milan and as such the dish represented a new world and a different ecosystem. To ease them into this new land the jury were first given a taste of a fermented drink while the young chef urged them to eat the dish of his forefathers, including venison smoked on pine branches, before it got cold. The idea was to use maximum ingredients from his hometown to remember his grandmother and father making the dishes. An intrigued Dufresne wanted to know more about the pine cone and Colagreco joked that if the freshness on the dish was summer, he wondered how harsh winter was.
The judges finished with a thanks also to the ALMA students who had assisted during the competition.