The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Africa Winners – Middle East and South Asia Regional Final 2023
Cape Town saw an intense two days of kitchen-focussed creativity as fourteen young chefs from Africa, Middle East and South Asia region came together on 23 and 24 January 2023 to compete for the regional title and the privilege of proceeding to the grand finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition.
The cook-offs took place over two days at Makers Landing in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, hosted by MC Abigail Donnelly, award-winning food writer, trend stylist and restaurant awards judge.
A powerful jury with a vast wealth of experience between them (and co-incidentally the first all-female jury of this region) had the difficult task of tasting, assessing, and evaluating dishes. South African chef Siba Mtongana, of SIBA The Restaurant at The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, best-selling author and star of Siba’s Table on Food Network; Selassie Atadika, UN humanitarian, voted #73 in the Best Chef Awards 2020 and 2021 recipient of the La Liste New Destination Champion Award for Africa, previously a finalist in the 2019 Basque Culinary World Prize, her company Midunu, a nomadic and private dining enterprise in Accra Ghana, embodies ‘New African Cuisine’. Tala Bashmi, chef patron of Fusions by Tala at the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain and winner of the first Middle East and North Africa Best Female chef award in 2022.
The winners were announced at a glittering gala dinner at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, hosted by Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp. Chefs, mentors and guests were treated to a dinner cooked by past alumni of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy: a course each by chefs Callan Austin, Vusi Ndlovu, and Paul Prinsloo, paired with wines specially selected by Joseph Dhafana of Mosi Wines. Dessert by pastry chef Vicky-Lynn Gurovich of the Mount Nelson followed paired beautifully with Nespresso’s Nepal Lamjung coffee, and a Sicilian dessert wine chosen by Pedro Estrada Belli of Vinotria.
And the winners….
S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award Regional Finalist winner
The winner whose dish best combines the three golden rules of technical skills, creativity and personal belief is Mythrayie Iyer, head chef of Farmlore Restaurant in Bengaluru, India. Her dish entitled Barter – Evolution of Indian Cooking Through the Age of Exploration, impressed all.
Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award
Voted for by foodies and the Fine Dining Lovers community, Kareem Atef, head of culinary research and development for TLT Concepts in Egypt, presented Egyptian Delight – a snapshot of Egypt on a plate.
S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility
Voted for by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, this was awarded to Zanté Neethling, head chef of the recently opened Nest Food Bar in Knysna, South Africa.
Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy
Voted for by the local mentors, this award acknowledges connections across different culture. Aurélien Durand, chef de cuisine at Ossiano Restaurant, Atlantis The Palm, in Dubai.
The grand finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition will be held in Milan in October 2023.
The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Africa Winners