S.Pellegrino Young Chef comp returns, now spans 18 months

17 January, 2017 by
Danielle Bowling

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef program is back for another year, recognising leading young culinary talent from across the world.

Applications open on 1 February 2017, and the contest will now span over 18 months. The upcoming year will include preliminary selection rounds and the local competitions, followed by the grand finale in June 2018 in Milan, Italy. According to a statement issued by the competition, the extended duration will allow candidates more time to work side by side with their assigned chef mentors to improve their signature dishes and refine their skills in preparation for the finals.

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Winners of S.Pellegrino Young Chef gain global visibility and a significant professional boost, as well as the chance to take part in several of the brand’s annual events around the world.

“It is a great honour to be named S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016,” said S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 winner, Mitch Lienhard of the United States. “The experience has provided many unforgettable moments so far, and I am thankful for the impact the title will have on my career. I look forward to continuing my work with S.Pellegrino to help find the culinary world’s best new talent and serving as a mentor to future competitors.”

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A new region, “Central America–Caribbean” has been added to the competition’s list of included geographic regions, now comprised of 21 different areas. In addition, applications will now be accepted in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French and Italian. All candidates are required to understand and speak English, as it is the official language of the competition.

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Over the course of the contest – which last year attracted over 3,000 applicants – 70 chefs will be involved as jurors in the local competitions, 21 young chefs from 21 different geographic areas will be selected as semi-finalists, and 21 chef mentors will be assigned individually to the young chefs.

S.Pellegrino Young Chef is devliered in four phases:

Phase I – Online Application (February 2017 – April 2017)

From 1 February 1 to 30 April, 2017, any young chef in the world will have the opportunity to submit an application and their signature dish at www.sanpellegrino.com. Applying chefs must be 30 years old or younger and have at least one year of experience working in a restaurant as a chef, sous chef or chef de partie.

Phase II – Global Shortlist (1 June, 2017)

All qualified candidates will be divided into 21 regions according to their geographic origin. Submissions will then be evaluated by ALMA, the international educational and training centre for Italian cuisine, which will select the top 10 semi-finalists for each geographic region, according to five “Golden Rules”:

  1. Ingredients: Ability to select the best ingredients that the market can offer in terms of quality, freshness and uniqueness, in order to achieve an excellence of taste.
  2. Skill: Ability to work with raw materials and turn them into a dish that respects their original essence.
  3. Genius: Ability to explore new, challenging, and innovative perspectives in relation to the culture of fine cuisine with a personal and contemporary style, while maintaining a perfect equilibrium of taste.
  4. Beauty: Dish presentation, giving an aesthetic enhancement of its contents.
  5. Message: Ability to communicate a clear message through one's work and vision.

Phase III – Local Challenges (7 June – December 2017)

The 10 selected semi-finalists of each of the 21 geographic areas will compete in a local semi-finals round, where live competitions will be held in each region.  During these events, the semi-finalists will cook their signature dishes for an exclusive regional jury, composed of independent chefs who will evaluate the presented dishes based on the five Golden Rules and select a winner.

By the end of December 2017, the 21 Young Chefs from around the globe will be announced as the official finalists, who will move on to the world finals in Milan, Italy. Each finalist will be assigned a mentor chef, who will provide guidance on how to improve their signature dishes and support them in their preparation for the finals.

Phase IV – S.Pellegrino Young Chef Finals (June 2018)

In June 2018, the 21 Young Chef finalists will gather in Milan for the grand finale. The chefs will compete for the title, with the winner selected by the international panel of judges.