Meet the 4 Africa & Middle East chefs who will be representing at S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Grand Finale 2021

Meet the 4 Africa & Middle East chefs who will be representing at S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Grand Finale 2021

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Grand Finale 2021 is just around the corner.

Since its inauguration in 2015, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition has swiftly become one of the most exciting cooking competitions on the gastronomy calendar.

From October 28 to 30 the world’s most talented young chefs, mentors, and an all-star-list of seven sages will celebrate together in a real restart of the hospitality sector, highlighting the transformative power of gastronomy.

Twelve young chefs finalists from around the world will cook in front of the grand jury – the Seven Sages – Pim Techamuanvivit, Mauro Colagreco, Manu Buffara, Gavin Kaysen, Enrico Bartolini, Clare Smyth, and Andreas Caminada in Milan.

The grand finale is the highlight of the competition that brings together the top young talents and the world’s best chefs, together with media, influencers, and partners from around the world, all in one place.

Ensuring the safest possible conditions for all the participants in this important event is the top priority.

In the lead-up to the grand finale, the four winners who impressed an international jury of professional chefs at the Africa & Middle East regional final in October 2019, have continued to grow in their careers and have come a long way since then.

Below they share some of the things that have changed in their careers in the last two years, and what they are looking forward to about visiting Italy for the three-day grand finale.

Paul Prinsloo S.Pellegrino Young Chef Regional finalist

Since winning the title of S.Pellegrino Young Chef for his region in 2019, Prinsloo has moved from The Restaurant at Waterkloof, which closed in November last year, to Gåte at Quoin Rock. The last two years have led him to focus much more on the issue of waste in the kitchen and with this in mind, he’s adapting his dish for the competition, guided by his mentor Gregory Czarnecki.

”I’m using the whole carcass of the fish, not just the fillets, taking good quality scallops and using the offcuts, making something of it. I want to see how little wastage I can actually have when the dish is completed,” says Prinsloo. He’s feeling confident for the finals and practising his dish weekly to get that muscle memory going again in the lead-up to the competition.

Callan Austin S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility finalist

Austin moved from Le Coin Français to join the new team at Chefs Warehouse TIntswalo in February 2021, to give himself the opportunity to gain wider experience.

“I’ve grown a lot as a chef. There are technical elements of my dish that I would update, interesting new ingredients that I’ve discovered, though my concept is still strong and I’m even more dedicated to being sustainable,” he says.

Austin is excited about going to Milan to meet other chefs and see what’s happening in sustainability elsewhere in the world.

“I’m looking forward to bringing back new knowledge and connections and starting a new focus on what sustainability is all about in South Africa,” he adds.

Marcus Gericke – Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought finalist

Gericke had just moved from The Saxon Hotel to the Michelangelo in Sandton, Johannesburg when the pandemic hit, and the hotel closed.

“I reached out to my chef friends, and Callan Austin, who I’d met in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, put me in touch with his mentor Darren Badenhorst,” he says.

Gericke moved to Franschhoek as sous chef at Le Chêne and is now head chef at Le Coin Français, both Badenhorst’s restaurants.

“The friends and connections I made from the competition have given me a chance to rebuild and thrive, and I’m sure meeting more in Italy will only help and guide me as a chef, going further,” he adds.

Elissa Abou Tasse – Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy finalist

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition has given Elissa inspiration and opportunity to grow, she says.

“After the competition, I focused on my weaknesses as a chef, and it made me realise that I want to be more particular in the research and development department, to develop my strengths further,” she says.

Abou Tasse says she is super excited to go to Milan for the Grand Finale.

“After the pandemic and everything that happened, it is exactly what we need. I am sure that I will change even more after the finale and have a more developed perspective,” she says.