3 Kiwi chefs in line for international award

There’s nothing I love more than a Kiwi success story – unless of course it’s three Kiwi success stories!

Two Kiwi chefs from New Zealand’s top award winning restaurants and another about to launch his own, have been selected as semifinalists in S.Pellegrino’s presitigious Young Chef 2018 competition.

Sidart sous chef Jason is in line for a top award

One of the semi-finalists is Jason Kim, sous chef at one of Auckland’s most popular restaurants, Sidart, owned by multi-award winning restaurant couple, Sid and Chand Sahwarat.

“10 years ago a fresh faced Korean lad walked into the kitchen at The Grove,” remembers Sid. “He proved to be a committed, passionate and creative chef.

“Over the last few years I have watched that young lad that walked into the kitchen evolve into the brilliant chef that Jason is today. He has honed his skills and now helps lead our team at Sidart. I could not be more proud of Jason having seen him work his way up over the last 10 years.”

Jason’s dish wowed the S. Pellegrino Young Chef judges

Each young chef’s application and signature dish was evaluated by experts at the World’s Leading International Educational and Training Centre for Italian Cuisine, ALMA, in charge of the local finalist selection. The experts of ALMA evaluated the applications in adherence to the five “Golden Rules”: ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and messageJason created a Pine-Smoked Black Scallop & White Scallop with Kimchi, Poussin, Miso Custard & Samgaetang( Chicken consommé)

“To me his dish “yin and yang” is symbolic of his journey as a chef, one that I saw 10 years back and the chef I see before me today,” says Sid proudly. “I have faith he will make us proud by bringing home the accolade of San Pellegrino Young Chef of 2018”

Jason is joined in the competition by Robert Fairs from Christchurch’s Roots restaurant, and William Mordido who is embarking on launching his own restaurant Buko. Each young chef created unforgettable signature dishes for the judges that saw them plucked from thousands of other entrants from 90 different countries, all looking for a chance to be a part of S.Pellegrino’s global talent search.

Last year Lesley Hottiaux, founder and chef at prestigious Auckland restaurant Apero Food and Wine, won the Young Chef Award for the Pacific region and went on to Milan to compete in the finals. Hottiaux, who beat four other Kiwis vying for the position, says the opportunity gave her and other chefs an incredible international platform to display their passion and skill.

“I feel very lucky to have participated in S.Pellegrino’s Young Chef competition and to have been a part of an amazing global experience which builds a community within the culinary arts. For a young chef starting out, the event and support that comes with taking part is invaluable. Young chefs work hard the world over to build their resumes and skill sets, so to be recognised in an international event offers boundless opportunities.”

“It is the third time now that we have the responsibility to select the young chefs for the local finals, but we continue to be amazed by how much flair and passion for fine food these young talents possess,”says Andrea Sinigaglia, General Manager of ALMA. “Having to select only ten semi-finalists for each region when you are presented with so many interesting applications is not at all easy. It is also our responsibility to accompany all candidates in a way that renders the competition realistic and highly educational. S.Pellegrino Young Chef is not only a chance to emerge, but also a moment of international encounter, exchange and sharing.”

From June to December 2017 the semi-finalists of each region will compete in local challenges. Each region will have a jury composed of leading independent chefs, who will judge the semi-finalists’ signature dishes and select the best one, based on the five Golden Rules; ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and message.

For Australia-Pacifc the local challenge will again be held in Melbourne, Australia at the Crown College Culinarium on 11 September 2017.

By the end of December 2017, the 21 Young Chefs from around the globe will be announced as the official finalists, who will move on to the Grand Finale, to be held in June 2018. Each finalist will be assigned a “Mentor Chef” (a member of their regional jury), who will provide them guidance on how to improve their signature dishes and support them in their preparation for the international finals.