Are You Ready? S.Pellegrino Young Chef Competition is Coming

Like previous editions, the 4th S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition nurtures the future of gastronomy by discovering and promoting young talents. Long-time supporters of the gastronomic community, S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna run this competition to give young chefs the courage to chase their dreams and realize their potential. 

In the lead up to the Greater China Region Finals, this years competitors have been working with their regional mentor on a signature dish to be judged by a prestigious panel of judges. Regional winners continue their journeys at the Grand Finale in Milan, Italy. 

Technical skill, creativity and expression of personal values are the criteria for selection. By proving that they will become a catalyst for positive change, the victorious S.Pellegrino Young Chef will be a high profile part of future Young Chef competitions. 

This years competitors have the good luck of being mentored by Dong Zhenxiang of Da Dong Peking duck fame. With numerous accolades under his belt, the master of Chinese Italian cuisine can be trusted to impart his deep knowledge of traditional Chinese cooking as well as modern international cuisine.

As a mentor, what is your greatest responsibility to the young chefs?
I want to guide them to use their life experiences to create a dish that represents them. Young chefs should have a goal that guides their career and keeps them on the correct path. As a mentor, my job is to help them find that path.

How important is it to stay true to your cultural heritage when cooking on the global stage?
We are representing China in a global competition, so naturally, the dishes the candidates create should reflect Chinese culture and be an international expression of Chinese cuisine. Ingredients, cooking techniques, flavor pairings and presentation can all be used to reflect Chinese elements.

As a female professional in the culinary industry, Jacqueline Qiu has held her own in a male-dominated field in a Shanghai five star hotel kitchen as well as a food star on Dragon TV Star Channel.Last year you were a mentor. How has your role evolved this year?
As a mentor, I gave the participants suggestions and guidance from the early stages to help them give their best performance. As a juror, I am focused on whether or not they accomplish key points and award points based on judgment.

Italian chef and co-owner of three-Michelin-starred  8 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA, Umberto Bombana has made huge contributions to the field in this region with restaurants in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

How will you pass on your knowledge to this years crop of young chefs?
First of all, I think stability is an essential quality for a chef. Todays young chefs are constantly bombarded by multiple sources of information, which can be both a good and a bad thing. 

Many young chefs want to open a restaurant after just a few years in the industry, but it is no easy thing to become a head chef. It requires years of hard work and a stable, temperate mindset focused on long-term goals. I hope to be able to pass on this attitude to the young chefs in the competition.

The other important thing is bringing together different cultures and cuisines. As an Italian chef,  I try to offer diners an authentic culinary experience attuned to the local trends and preferences. The young chefs in the competition are representing China, and I hope to see Chinese elements in their dishes.

One of Asias top female chefs, Chen was behind the award-winning Le Mot in Taichung, Taiwan. Although she decided to close in 2018, the restaurant was 28th on Asias 50 Best Restaurants 2017.You have found success by combining classical French technique with your heritage. How will you help the young chefs do the same in a manner that is authentic to themselves?
I think a good cuisine or delicious food is achieved by mastering techniques, which include an understanding of the characters and the essence of produce. When it comes to great cuisine, personal style and cultural heritage are key.  If young chefs strengthen their skills and food knowledge, their style will develop naturally.

Hong Kong-born Vicky Lau moved to the United States at 15 and discovered the culinary field at Le Cordon Bleu in Thailand after completing studies in graphic communication at NYU. Her Tate Dining Room & Bar is recognized as a Top 20 Restaurant in Hong Kong by Hong Kong Tatler, as well as receiving to one Michelin star in 2019.

You have the most visual background of the jurors this year. How will that inform your judging?
My visual background will take a hike away from this competition. For me, taste and respect for ingredients always come first. Next, the organization and the ethos behind a contestants cooking are important factors to evaluate.

2019 S.Pellegrino Young Chef (SPYC) Greater China Finalists

Cooking is a complex skill that requires rigorous devotion to master. All of the SPYC Greater China Finalists are dream-seekers, and they will find their true callings in the course in this competition. S.Pellegrino provides a platform and a support system for these young chefs. While aiming to be the champion, every 2019 S.Pellegrino Greater China finalist will rise to meet every challenge. Let's meet our 2019 SPYC Greater China Finalists: 

Image courtesy of S.Pellegrino

Pin-Jui Su

Chef (The Moment, Taipei)

Signature Dish: After Rain

Tan Qiu

Chef (Rve Labo, Hangzhou)

Signature Dish: Be Home

Zhi Cheng Wang

Commis (Table Black, Shanghai)

Signature Dish: What is Soy in China

Xin Peng Liu

Sous Chef (The Bridge, Chengdu)

Signature Dish: Eight Treasure Stuffed Pigeon with Meng Ding Dark Tea Broth

Zhen Quan Ou

R&D of New Recipes (Yunxili, Lijiang)

One Flower, One World

Image courtesy of S.Pellegrino

Ho Lam Shek

Chef de Partie (Hong Kong Club, Hong Kong)

Signature Dish: Stuffed and Marinated Chinese Golden Thread Bream, Fermented Grains, Celtuce, Chenpi Oil

Huang Pin Hsiang

Chef (VG Cafe, Taipei)

Signature Dish: Taste of Hakka

Ingrid Gonalves

Chef de Partie (Veda Restaurant, Hong Kong)

Signature Dish: Between the Flavours

Neven Wang 

Chef de Partie (8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana)

Signature Dish: Chinese-Style Roast Duck with Handmade Rice Noodles and Xiangqi Bacon

Cheng-Wei Lu

Chef (Woden Bistro, Taipei)

Signature Dish: A Memory from Formosa

Witness these 10 contenders compete at the 4th S.Pellegrino Young Chef Competiton on Nov 21 at the Bellagio Shanghai. 

Bellagio Shanghai, 188 Suzhou Bei Lu, by Zhapu Lu 188,