‘The Seventh ‘Young Chef Olympiad’ 2021 was a Grand Affair

‘The seventh ‘Young Chef Olympiad’ 2021 was a grand affair, albeit virtually, as cheftestants from across the globe converged for the culinary cook-off extravaganza’

The International Institute of Hospitality Management’s (IIHM) Young Chef Olympiad (YCO) went ‘virtual’ for the first time this year for obvious reasons. Many organisations would have resigned to the fact that the worldwide travel restrictions and local lockdown laws would make such a highly complex, global competition (and that’s under normal conditions) non-achievable this year. However, this was not an option for Dr. Suborno Bose and his team at IIMH.

The Chefs’ Forum’s Education Consultant and chef, Neil Rippington, was honoured to be asked to take the position as Senior Judge in the competition’s heats, leading to the Grand Final on the 6th February. Streamed over Zoom, the worldwide culinary competition saw participants and mentors from over 50 countries compete across 24 time-zones.

Neil formed part of an international judging team with many familiar and famous names including celebrity chef and Masterchef India judge, Ranveer Brar, Chris Galvin, Henry Brosi, Professor David Foskett and India’s most famous chef Sanjeev Kapour.

Working within a complex set of technical logistics, the team at IIHM performed incredibly to broadcast a fantastic show to viewers across the world. The vision of YCO is founded on bringing together some of the world’s most promising young chefs to celebrate the love of food and hospitality. This year, Dr Bose said ‘I am delighted that we have been able to achieve the global connect so fantastically due to the digital handshake. It has been possibly the most important YCO as it is all about hope and bounce-back. It’s the ‘Hope Olympiad’ for all countries.’

The top 20 teams from the preliminary rounds competed for two titles, with teams from 11th to 20th competing for the ‘Plate Trophy’ and those in the top 10 for the Grand Trophy, gold medal and $10,000 US Dollars. The finals took place over the 5th and 6th February with the announcements made during a fantastic and highly entertaining closing ceremony on Saturday evening.

Prizes were also awarded for best dish categories in the preliminary rounds as well as a range of awards for best mentor, best team spirit of the competition, and student ambassadors.

The following teams won awards for outstanding dishes in the preliminary round.

• Best Chicken Dish – United Arab Emitrates (UAE) – Chicken Saluna

• Best Vegetarian Dish – Tunisia – Mastro

• Best Afternoon Tea Eclair – Hong Kong

• The ‘Plate Trophy’ was awarded to Bulgaria

In the Grand Final, New Zealand won the bronze medal (3rd place) and the UAE won the silver medal (2nd place). The very proud team to pick up the gold medal, $10,000 US dollars and 1st place was awarded to Hong Kong.

Gateau St. Honoré – Gold Medalist, Lee Maan Ki of Hong Kong

Gateau St. Honoré – Plate Trophy winner, Andzhela Boeva of Bulgaria.

Neil said ‘I have represented the UK team at YCO twice previously in 2018 and 2019 as the student mentor. We had a truly memorable experience and performed well, making the Grand final on both occasions, picking up awards and the Bronze medal in 2019. To be asked by the management team to become a judge this year was flattering and I relished and enjoyed the opportunity. What Dr Bose, the team at IIHM, the contestants, mentors and everyone else involve in this year’s competition were able to achieve was simply amazing and a great example to the world during such an unprecedented time in our lives. I look forward to being involved again in the future, by which time we can hopefully return to safe travel and free to mix and celebrate as we have in the past.’