These Five Chefs will Choose the Best Young Chef in Central America & Caribbean
Five of Central America’s best chefs - Chefs Mario Castrellón, Saverio Stassi, Martha Ortiz, Mikel Alonso and Edgar Núñez - will form the jury in the local young chef competition for the Central America & Caribbean region. The line-up of professionals will be tasked with selecting the best young chef during the live local cook-off in Mexico City on 4 October.
A mentor will be selected from the local chef jury to accompany the winning young chef on their demanding journey up until the Grand Finale of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 in June 2018, when they will compete on an international stage.
In the meantime, we take the chance to find out more about the prestigious line-up of chefs with an instrumental role in this year’s young chef challenge.
Meet the chefs for the Central America & Caribbean local jury
Mario Castrellón- Panama
The Panama-born chef and owner of restaurant Maito, which features on the Latin America’s 50 Best list, was one of the early pioneers of ‘New Panamanian Cuisine.’ Having originally studied abroad, he returned to his home country after formal chef training, including a stint in Barcelona. His culinary research extends to indigenous communities, as well as support for young chefs and Panama’s coffee producers.
Saverio Stassi – Dominican Republic
Venezuelan born chef Saverio Stassi, who has long since known the Dominican Republic as home, first spread his culinary wings studying under some of the best chefs in France, New York and Italy. As part of his culinary personality, he has also absorbed Vietnamese, Thai, Spanish and Latin American culinary influences. considered a master of foie gras, he heads up an eclectic selection of restaurants in his portfolio, including Pat’e Palo in the Dominican Republic, Lulú Tasting Bar, Jalao and his most recent vegetarian venture, Time.
Martha Ortiz - Mexico
When not serving as an honorary judge, Martha keeps herself busy with her restaurant Dulce Patria, which is currently listed in Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants, where she showcases vibrant contemporary Mexican cuisine. Having studied the history of gastronomy, she has also written books on regional Mexican cuisine and is a judge on Top Chef Mexico.
Mikel Alonso - Mexico
Mikel Alonso is a Culinary Master who collaborated for more than eight years as Executive Chef of Tezka Restaurant, in Mexico City, and he was in charge of sequents events organization for the Spain Embassy in Mexico City. Mikel practices the “Gatxupa Cuisine”, a mestizo cuisine that points, in a very-honest way, the balance between Basque gastronomic culture and the Mexican in his restaurant BIKO, a place that was for nine consecutive years in the list "The World's Best 50 Restaurants" and now the restaurant is in the top ten of "Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants". In addition, Mikel is Co-owner of Lur Restaurant.
Edgar Núñez - Mexico
Chef and co-owner of restaurant Sud 777 in Mexico City, Nuñez is a member of a new generation of Mexican chefs positioning Mexican gastronomy worldwide. He squeezed in training in France and internships at elBulli and Noma before joining Sud 777 as executive chef in 2008, when still in his twenties. Nuñez is passionate about local produce and discovering the origins of his ingredients, which has led him to create Lo Dirás de Chía, a fruit and vegetable shop in the Condesa neighbourhood. He also has Kokeshi by Sud777, an offshoot serving Asian cuisine within the main restaurant. Nuñez founded the Mexican Food Trucks Association, and his Barra Vieja and Burger Lab projects are considered two of the most successful in Mexico City.