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New Delhi: India’s Surya Sekhar Roy Choudhury has won a silver at the fourth edition of the International Young Chef Olympiad (YCO) 2018, an event that brought together participants under the age of 22 from 45 nations and which its mentor, Suborno Bose says could soon travel to other countries.
“It is the first time that we’ve got the trophy back home. It is an honour. I hoped I could live up to the expectations I had on my shoulders to perform. It is a superb feeling. The exposure like this, meeting chefs like John Wood and Chris Galvin, makes you want to push yourself to greater heights,” Choudhury said at the conclusion of the six-day four-city event in Kolkata on Saturday evening.
— Young Chef Olympiad (@ycolympiad) 3 February 2018
Malaysia’s Lai Jia Yi won the gold and a cheque for $10,000 while Scotland’s Kevin McCafferty and Hong Kong’s Henry Lee shared the third spot.
The grand finale saw 11 competitors creating two dishes – a ‘boned chicken dish’, served with a contemporary garnish and a creative potato dish to compliment the chicken, as also a fresh innovative dessert from Choux Pastry, with principal judge Sanjeev Kapoor declaring himself extremely pleased with the winning entries.
“The competition in 2018 was at least twice as big as last year and that’s a great achievement,” he added.
“The journey has been absolutely incredible,” Bose, the founder of the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), who conceptualised the event, told IANS in an email interview, adding that the fact that student chefs from 45 countries participated this time around from the 15 in the inaugural year “itself speaks volumes about the kind of enthusiasm and acceptance we have received from the international culinary fraternity. This journey has been much more successful than we ever thought; it has successfully put India on the culinary map of the world”.
Declaring that the YCO’s future “looks pretty bright”, Bose said: “We are planning to build a sustainable model for YCO for the next 50 years. We are looking at not just being stationed in India, but taking the Olympiad abroad to different countries, where it would be easier to surface more local talent. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to make India proud and bring more laurels to the Indian culinary space.”
How did the YCO concept come about?
“It was based on the thought of bringing the young and promising future stars of the international culinary community on a single platform where they could connect, share ideas & innovations, and create something exceptional out of their experiences,” Bose said.
Emboldened by the “love and acceptance” of Young Chef India that set the ball rolling, “we thought why not extend this event internationally? Why not bring more people from varying backgrounds at this platform so that we could have a more heterogeneous space for learning? Therefore, in 2015 we organized the first ever International Young Chef Olympiad with 15 participating countries. The rest has been an extraordinary success story,” Bose added.
Has the format changed over the years?
“The basic YCO format asks students to display their culinary expertise by cooking dishes in a number of competitive rounds. These students are accompanied by their mentors who guide them throughout the course of competition. Moreover, in the competitive rounds, they’re allowed to have a commis chef who would cater to their smaller need but is not allowed to participate in the actual cooking. The best students graduate into the final round where the best amongst them wins the YCO title.
“This pattern has greatly evolved in the last few years. With the help of outstanding advice and mentoring from some of the most versatile and most respected culinary experts in the world, we have elevated this model on the standards its stands today,” Bose said.
How are the judges selected?
The judges are outlined by the industry’s apex body, the International Hospitality Council in London, which is headed by Prof. David Foskett (Chairman of the YCO Jury). There at least four board meetings every year where a number of issues related to the Olympiad, including the judges and the judging process are discussed.
“We outline the best of culinary experts, practicing chefs, Michelin Star chefs; we reach out to them, connect with them continuously and get the best possible faces on board. So, it is less about selection, as these are the most celebrated & credible personalities of the international culinary fraternity. It is more about inviting people and getting them onboard,” Bose said.
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