By Satyaki Dutta
The culinary competition goes virtual as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic couldn’t hinder the world’s biggest Olympiad for culinary students. The Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), based in Kolkataand the International Hospitality Council (IHC), London organised,‘The World’s Biggest Virtual Culinary Battle for Hope’ to convey positivity and unity across the borders and nations all over the world.
Even on a virtual platform, the Young Chef’s Olympiad managed to maintain the glamour of the competition, providing a new and different experiencealtogether.
The seventh edition of Young Chef’s Olympiad (YCO) was back with a bang to celebrate the multicultural diversity of students from across the world. Opening on Jan 31, student chefs from 50 countries and 24 time zones, including Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Thailand, South Korea, Turkey, UAE, Sweden, among others connected on Zoom to participate in the competition. With the theme, ‘Forward Together,’ the young talents united to champion the virtual culinary battle through their positive deed.
During the 5-day long competition, the contestants ventured on 2 rounds of culinary challenges to win the coveted YCO 2021 Champion Trophy. The honour included a cash prize of USD 10,000 and their skill recognition by globally renowned experts from the food and hospitality industry. The jury comprised of nationally and internationallyfamed names like Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, David Foskett, Chris Galvin, John Wood, RanveerBrar and Rahul Akerkar.
In the first round, the contestants were required to prepare three dishes. The competitors were judged based on their skill, taste and creativity, nutrition, health and safety.
The top 10 contestants of the previous round competed in the Grand Finale of YCO 2021 on Feb 4and 5. They were fragmented into 2 groups of 5 countries in each, across 2 days in different time zones to accommodate all.
The Grand Finale and Plate Trophy Finals of YCO 2021 tested the contestant’s creativity, innovation, cooking skills and professional good practice in a time-bound environment. The contestants were given 2 and a half hours for preparing Gateau St Honore for 10 person using a sweet pastry and choux pastry filled with a crème chiboust.
For the Plate Trophy Finals, the contestants were required to prepare the same Gateau St Honore for 10 persons, but in 2 hours. The Plate Trophy was also held on Feb 4 and 5 wherein the contestants holding positions 11 to 20 in the first round competed.
The closing ceremony washeld on Feb 6, where the YCO 2021 Champion, runners-up and other awardees were announced. Lee Mann Ki, from Hong Kong, was awarded the Gold medal. This year, the participants competed for awards like ‘Rising Star’, ‘Best Vegetarian Dish’, ‘Best Chicken Sauté Dish’, ‘Best Hygiene and Kitchen
Practice’, ‘Ambassador Award’, ‘Mentor Award’, ‘Sustainability Award’, ‘Best Use of Kitchen Cut’ and ‘Best Afternoon Tea Profiteroles’.
Previously only professionals and people with cooking flair would want to don the chef’s cap. But nowadays, thanks to reality shows, competitions and celebrity chefs, the profession has been glamorised. Young chefs are more interested in experimenting and presentation (plating). Some chefs’ also pair drinks along with their cuisine to create a harmonious palette.