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S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018: The 21 Finalists in their Words

S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018: The 21 Finalists in their Words

As the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Grand Final enters day two, we take the opportunity to meet the 21 finalists and learn what cooking means to them.

By FDL on

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Grand Finale is here!  Today, the name of the most talented young chef in the world will be revealed, as well as the recipient of the Acqua Panna Contemporary Tradition award and the brand new Fine Dining Lovers People's Choice Award, as voted for by our readers.

Watch: The S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Grand Finale here

The tension is palpable as the final day of the 3rd ever edition of the global talent contest warms up. Knives are being sharpened, kitchens polished and whites starched as the young chefs busy themselves with final preparations.

We take the opportunity to remind ourselves of the passion and motivation behind each of the 21 rising young talents that have displayed both the determination and skill to win. A win which will not only increase their professional visibility but the culinary vision of the region they are representing.

Follow the day's events on #SPYoungChef and follow us on Facebook to find out the three super–finalists who will face off in the Grand Finale. The live stream begins at 7pm CEST.

In the meantime we let the 21 young chefs reflect on the inspiration behind their signature dishes, their influences and what a win would mean to them...

A taste of place...

Jake Kellie, South-East Asia
When I present my dish to the panel of judges in Milan I really want to make them feel like they are in Australia and feel the connection that I have and am trying to show.

Ruslan Evstigneev, Russia and CIS
This dish came to me based on idea thinking about my land, my heritage and my ancestry.

Killian Crowley, UK and Ireland
If your area is surrounded by beautiful produce and producers you have to use them. It’s part of the culture of food in Ireland. For me, it central to its identity. 

Oscar Segundo, Central America and Caribbean
I’m doing something that is very representative of my country but taken to the root level of investigation and culture.

Cooking as an ambassador for your country ... 

Zih-Yang Chen, North-East Asia
I am not representing myself but the environment and culture of Taiwan. I hope I can tell chefs all over the world what kind of country Taiwan is.

Marcin Popielarz, East Europe
This is the time of Polish cuisine and we will present our country’s sublime taste and the richness of our land.

Nothing goes to Waste... 

Anton Husa, Scandinavia and Baltics
The main target with my dish was that nothing should go to waste. For example, I make a purée from the waste from the caramelized circular shaped celeriac and the waste from the leek and “cod skin” is the main ingredient in the sauce.  

David Andres, Spain and Portugal
I look for the integral use of the tuna... I chose this dish in order to send messages of healthy and sustainable cooking. 

Family inspiration...

Frédéric Chastro, Benelux
My family were the people that created the passion and the love for food. Without them my interest in gastronomy wouldn't exist.

Elizabeth Puquio Landeo, Latin America
I like cooking a lot, thanks to my mom and grandmother. I always saw them cook with such love to the kitchen, that always caught my attention and made me like cooking even more. 

Benjamin Mauroy-Langlais, Canada
My grandmother was the first person who was really happy about me becoming a cook. She passed on her very strong love of eating. My parents also had a strong influence on how I came to respect ingredients.

David Walti, Switzerland
A huge part of my inspiration comes from my grandmother.

On creativity...

Constadina Voulgari, Mediterranean Countries
To me, cooking is not just a profession. It’s the art of expression, creativity, love, passion, imagination, freedom and finally of power.

Food Memories

Chanwai Poon, China
It was inspired by a memory from my childhood. I used fish as my main ingredient because of my mum. 

Edoardo Fumagalli, Italy
The most decisive experiences are related to grandma's cooking. My greatest memories of taste and smell I acquired from her. One of them is the smell of dried pasta in its cupboard. 

On the global community...

Yasuhiro Fujio, Japan
To be able to get to know like-minded chefs and top chefs around the globe.

On Self -Belief ...

Falko Weiss, Germany-Austria
I believe in my dish and in its message. It shows 100 % who I am and how I cook.

John Taube IV, USA
I have an incredible life-changing story and my dish truly represents who I am as a young chef.

On realising a dream...

Antonio Buono, France
.. after many years of hard work, I finally realized my dream since I was a child!  

Future Ambitions...

John Rivera, Pacific
In 10 years’ time, I would definitely like to own and run a fine dining restaurant of my own in Melbourne, Australia.

Vusumuzi Ndlovu, Africa and Middle East
I’m in love with Europe, god willing I’d like to have neo-bistro in Paris or Portugal, that’s the goal!

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