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Culinary Crafting

THE ASIAN AGE. | VANESSA VIEGAS
Published : Jan 29, 2019, 12:08 am IST
Updated : Jan 29, 2019, 12:08 am IST

The Young Chef Olympiad, which flagged off yesterday has city’s culinary mavens Sanjeev Kapoor, Karen Anand and Ranveer Brar on the panel.

Young chefs during the competition.
 Young chefs during the competition.

The 5th edition of the Young Chef Olympiad, which flagged off in Delhi yesterday is poised to be bigger than its previous editions with over 55 countries participating this year. Students from some of the world’s best culinary and hospitality institutions will be pitted against each other to win the coveted YCO 2019 trophy, a cash prize of USD 10,000 and an acknowledgment of their skills from celebrated industry stalwarts at the end of this five-day long competition.

From India, city-based chefs Ranveer Brar, Avijit Ghosh, Padma Shri Chef Sanjeev Kapoor – who is the mentor and principal judge for the event – and food expert and writer Karen Anand will take the judges’ chair at the competition. International chefs such as Michelin Star Chef John Wood, Chef Scott Baechler, and Chef Enrico Bricarello will join them.

Karen Anand, who has been associated with YCO previously is delighted to be back on the seat again, she says, “I have seen it grow from a small competition with a few students to the huge success it is today with international students from around the world.”

The cuisines are exotic and the skills on the kitchen table displayed by these students supersede expectations. The level of competitiveness is skyrocketing, “the cuisines seem to be getting better, the level seems to be getting higher and the judges seem to be getting more. So, I am really looking forward to a very high standard and having a great time,” says Karen.

Chef Avijit Ghosh explains that the criteria for judging entails two halves based on technique and taste and stresses that he will strictly be only judging the participants, “As Judges, we will be strictly involved only in the marking and not mentoring the young chefs as each contestant has a mentor for their country. Our criteria for judging will be based on many factors such as table set up, a method of cooking, use of right ingredients and equipment, hygiene, portion size, presentation, taste, texture and practicality of service among other things.”

While YCO is the only annual cooking Olympics for culinary students across the world, it is worthwhile to ask how these competitions might help young chefs push the envelope further. Michelin Star Chef John Wood prods, “I believe that the competition teaches you about timing and accuracy. It teaches you the difference between a cook and chef and that is what is important. It is great to win it and get prizes but just being part of it is a massive thing for all the students,” he says.

Ask him what he is looking at this year and he says, “I think the qualities I am seeking is being a chef is about being structured, organized and calm under the highly pressurized situation. It is about understanding that this is your cooking, confidently delivering your dishes and practicing over those dishes on a regular basis before the competition is very important and hopefully they would have done that because when you practice on a regular basis it comes quite natural. So I am hoping that the chefs will come with higher qualities than last year. Pushing the competition to be more challenging than it was last year.”

Organized by the International Institute of Hotel Management, the International Hospitality Council, London and supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, this year 19-year-old Madhumita Krishnasamy will represent India at the competition. The third-year student at International Institute of Hotel Management in Bengaluru will compete with 55 contestants from all over the world to win the coveted title. The first two rounds will take place in Delhi, followed by Pune and will proceed to Kolkata for the finals.

Tags: sanjeev kapoor, young chef olympiad