Leslie Hottiaux from Apero Food & Wine, Auckland, New Zealand was announced winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Australia Pacific, beating 10 other finalists from Australia and New Zealand.

Hottiaux will represent the region at The Grand Final in Milan, Italy on October 13, 2016.

Hottiaux won with her dish of potato gnocchi mushrooms, pine nuts and truffle. All finalists were selected by ALMA, an international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine.

The regional challenge took place on 24 and 25 July at Crown Culinarium, in front of a jury, which included Peter Gilmore, Quay; Peter Doyle, Est; Jacques Reymond, L'Hotel Gitan; Andrew McConnell, Cutler & Co, Supernormal, Cumulous Inc; and Adam D'Sylva, Coda & Tonka. The jury watched the preparation and tasted each dish. The judging process was based on the criteria of five “Golden Rules”: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty and message.

“I’m thrilled to represent Australia Pacific in Milan,” said chef Leslie Hottiaux. “The Grand Final in October will be a great opportunity to meet and compete against other young chefs from all over the world. As my restaurant is all about meat, I wished to create something intrinsically vegetarian; in doing so I wanted the dish to be all about flavour and texture”.

From January to March 2016, thousands of young chefs from across the world submitted their applications together with their signature dish for a chance to compete in the 2016 edition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef.

S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 will now enter into the last of its four phases. During this final round, the 20 finalists from each region of the world will be assigned a mentor chef who will advise them on how to improve their signature dishes and help them prepare for the final competition. The Australia Pacific mentor is Peter Gilmore from Quay Restaurant, Sydney.

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