On the evening of 30th October, the three days of events comprising the Grand Finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2021 competition reached their climax at a glittering awards ceremony held in Milan, Italy and live-streamed around the world.
The coveted title went to Jerome Ianmark Calayag, representing the UK and Northern Europe region. Supported by his mentor David Ljungqvist, Calayag wowed the Grand Jury with his flavour-packed signature dish 'Humble Vegetables', earning a standing ovation before declaring: "It is now time that we should think more sustainably and also act. You can cook very good food with such humble ingredients."
The Grand Jury he had impressed was made up of big-name chefs Enrico Bartolini (Italy), Manu Buffara (Brazil), Andreas Caminada (Switzerland), Mauro Colagreco (France), Gavin Kaysen (USA) and Clare Smyth (UK). Thai chef Pim Techamuanvivit, who was unable to leave her country due to an unforeseen event, sent her support via video link.
Encouraging young chefs to use their unique culinary talents as a catalyst for social and environmental change, three additional awards were announced on the night. The S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility went to Callan Austin (Africa & Middle East). Meanwhile Elissa Abou Tasse (Africa & Middle East) won the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy, and Andrea Ravasio (Spain, Iberian & Mediterranean) took the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award, voted by readers of the online voice of gastronomy.
During the three days, participants were offered further food for thought by three dedicated workshops, covering areas ranging from sustainability and social responsibility to connecting creativity and experiences, as well as branding and communication.
Finally, in the inaugural S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Brain Food Forum curated by Fine Dining Lovers, special guests Massimo Bottura and Virgilio Martinez, along with members of the jury and former competition winners, inspired the audience with their experiences and insights. It was a unique opportunity for the young chefs to interact with these special guests and ask them numerous questions.
Martinez, renowned for exploring traditional Peruvian cuisine with modern techniques, advised the young chefs: "Always be open to new ideas and different approaches."
Closing the forum Bottura, founder of the Food for Soul initiative, made a surprise announcement: "S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna and Food For Soul have a special relationship, and because of this relationship all S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy members are invited to do internships in our Refettorios around the world and train to be part of the culinary revolution." A unique invitation that was warmly received by the young chefs present.
To find out more about all the activities of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, visit: https://www.sanpellegrinoyoungchefacademy.com/.