The world’s only global cooking competition is back for the second year running. I was invited to attend the UK and Ireland launch of San Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 at one of London’s finest restaurants, Dabbous in Fitzrovia. This initiative gives chefs under the age of 30 the opportunity to be crowned the world’s best young chef.
I’ve been meaning to visit Dabbous for a while, as it’s cuisine is so ground-breaking. The decor has a very industrial vibe, letting the food speak for itself.
For the breakfast launch, Ollie Dabbous and team had rustled up some very tasty Bircher muesli with Yorkshire rhubarb and jasmine – hands down the best muesli I’ve ever had.
Ollie is one of the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 UK and Ireland judging panel, in good company with JP McMahon of Cava Bodega in Galway, Michelin starred Claude Bosi of Hibiscus and Ross Lewis of Chapter One. They were joined by 2015 global winner Mark Moriarty from Ireland.
Phase One of the competition is the call for talents. Candidates across the world can apply online at www.finedininglovers.com until 31 March, as long as they are under 30 and have at least one year of experience as a chef, sous chef or chef de partie. They just need to fill in the form, upload a CV and submit details of their signature dish recipe together with photos.
Phase Two is the selection of ten finalists for each of the 20 regions by ALMA, the renowned Italian cuisine educational and training centre. ALMA is looking for five criteria: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty, and communication of a clear message.
Phase 3 is the Regional Finals, from 1 May to 15 August when the area finalists will cook their signature dish for a top notch regional jury. At the end of August, the 20 official finalists will be announced. At this stage, each one will be assigned a mentor who will pass on their expertise. The final phase is the grand finale in Milan from 13 to 15 October, culminating in the award of the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. Parallel to this, S. Pellegrino held their first ever Taste Experience at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
At the launch event’s live Q&A with the top British chefs, we gained some fascinating insights into the skills and dedication that it takes to win this coveted prize. Mark was particularly indebted to his mentor, Clare Smyth MBE, Britain’s first female chef to win three Michelin stars and chef patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea.
After the Q&A, we were treated to another delectable breakfast dish, fried duck egg with homemade black pudding, bubble and squeak and mango chutney. The fact that I ate it all is testament to how good it was, as I normally avoid any mashed potato and black pudding!
Do you know any talented young chefs?
Please do encourage them to enter at www.finedininglovers.com and you can follow the competition on Twitter via hashtag #SPYoungChef to get regular updates.