One Hundred and thirty-five young chef candidates from 12 regions, representing 50 countries, are now one step closer to reaching the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2020 Grand Finale. There were over 2,400 applicants from all over the world who wanted to take part in this globally renowned competition to find the world’s best young chef, and of those 135 who successfully reached the semi-finals seven are from South Africa.
Each young chef’s application and signature dish was evaluated by culinary experts at the World’s Leading International Educational and Training Centre for Italian Cuisine, ALMA, who are in charge of the candidate selection. ALMA’s selection process hinged on three key criteria: technical skills, creativity and a personal belief in the transformative power of gastronomy as a device for positive change in society.
Applications for the 2020 edition of the global competition grew by 20% compared to the past edition, moreover, the percentage of women registered among the candidates increased to more than 10% – a number that needs to grow, but that shows the first results of the commitment taken by S.Pellegrino for gender balance and inclusivity.
Between August and December 2019, the candidates of each region will compete in the regional challenges. Each region will have a jury composed of leading independent chefs – which in the past have included luminaries such as David Higgs and Chantel Dartnall – who will judge the candidates’ signature dishes and select the regional winners of the four awards.
South Africa is well represented in the Regional Finals for the Africa and Middle East region, with seven out of ten places awarded to young chefs from some of South Africa’s top restaurants including 3 young chefs from the Western Cape.
The semi-finalists are: Kayla-Ann Osborn (The Chefs Table, Umhlanga), Logan Leisse (Cavalli Estate, Somerset West), Callan Austin (Le Coin Français, Franschhoek), Daniel Payne (View Restaurant at The Four Seasons Hotel, Johannesburg), Marcus Gericke (Qunu at The Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg), Meshen Pillay (Reuben’s at The Capital Moloko, Johannesburg), Paul Thinus Prinsloo (The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Somerset West), Elissa Abou Tasse (Maroun Chedid S.A.L, Beirut, Lebanon), Aytekin Yamaç (Hezarfen Restaurant, Turkey), Martim Moreau Maita (The Park Hyatt, United Arab Emirates).
By the end of December 2019, whichever of these Young Chefs become official finalists, will then move on to the Grand Finale to be held in June 2020. Throughout the months of preparation for the competition, each finalist will be accompanied by their Mentor Chefs, who will provide them with guidance on how to improve their signature dishes and support them in their preparation for the international finals.