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Judges and TV hosts, Brian Turner and Sanjeev Kapoor, at the tasting room where a select panel of judges were blind-tasting the dishes, before scoring the finalists.

Battle of cheftestants to the finish line, at IIHM Young Chef Olympiad, with The Telegraph

The added element of surprise was a mystery ingredient that the contestants were given the night before the final round

By Nandini Ganguly
  • Published 19.02.20, 7:23 PM
  • Updated 19.02.20, 7:23 PM
  • a min read
  •  

Ready...set...go! Ten contestants were the cynosure of all eyes on the morning of February 2, at the global campus of International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) as they crossed ladles and begun their fight to clinch the top spot at the sixth edition of IIHM Young Chef Olympiad, in association with The Telegraph. The final task? Cooking four portions of a vegetarian starter and four portions of a king tiger prawn main course dish, suited for a bistro or brasserie. The added element of surprise was a mystery ingredient that the contestants were given the night before the final round. The finalists were required to state the health benefits of the mystery ingredient in their dish, on a paper, and present it to the judges before the round. Snapshots...

Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Judges Stephen Carter and Chris Galvin carefully observed each contestant and marked them on various parameters. There was no room for mistake in the finale.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
This well-presented dishes was proof of the contestants’ short but worthwhile journey towards improvement from Round 1 to the finale.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Chen Khai Loong from Malaysia’s Taylor’s University had expectations to live up to. After all, his country has taken home the winner’s trophy in the past. “I hope I make my country proud again, even though this is my first time participating in a competition. I felt pressurised because I care and that’s a good kind of pressure because it keeps me going. The equipment are different but we are chefs and we need to adapt instantly and there can’t be excuses,” said the 21-year-old who can’t imagine his life without cooking. “This is the only thing I love and want to do,” said Chen.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
For Tsz Hei Lo from Hong Kong’s International Culinary Institute of VTC, the final round didn’t live up to his expectation. “This round didn’t go how I expected. For me, the first round was better. My dish was slightly overcooked but I am confident about the flavours,” said the 20-year-old who wants to open a restaurant of his own.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Jolene Sng Wan Yu from At-Sunrice Global Chef in Singapore, had to overcome a lot of difficulties in this round. “I am very happy that I managed to put everything on the plate. Halfway through the round, the induction stopped working and they had to bring in four portable ones for me. The controls were a little different but I managed to do everything. There were some improvisations that my mentor and I decided to do last night,” said the 23-year-old who infused the mystery ingredient, cinnamon, in the sauce that she made to bring in “subtleness”.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Bethany Collings from England’s Westminster Kingsway College managed to finish everything on time and was happy post the completion of two hours. “It went really well and both the dishes were exactly how I wanted them to be. I am confident of the flavours and presentation,” said the 18-year-old who wanted to be a chef since she was a child. “It’s the only thing I liked doing when I was younger. I used to cook a lot,” said Bethany who started cooking when she was all of seven.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
We asked Mihail Velkov from Switzerland’s B.H.M.S — Business Hotel Management School to rate his level of confidence on a scale of one to 10 and pat came the reply, “10”! “It (the dish) turned out exactly how I had imagined it to be. I practised for about five times and I am very happy with the dish. Little improvisations were required but I am not complaining,” said the 22-year-old, who looks up to the Michelin-starred chef, Rene Redzepi and also derives inspiration from the late Anthony Bourdain. Mihail wants to invest his time in pop-restaurants because of their versatility.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Eunjeong Jeong from South Korea’s Woosong University is never nervous and believes in enjoying life every moment. “I am happy and proud of myself to be in the top 10. I completed the dish but I wish I could show some more skills,” said the 22-year-old who loves to dance.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Robert Maitland from Scotland’s City of Glasgow College did take some extra minutes to complete cooking his dish but was happy with the outcome. “I am happy even though I took four minutes extra. I had left the prawns till the last minute. I can work under pressure,” said the 20-year-old who has not only participated in competitions before participating in YCO, but has also won a silver medal in one of them.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Labago Austin Cale from Philippines’ De La Salle — College of Saint Benilde, didn’t want to be overconfident about being in the Super 10. “It was how I imagined and I don’t know what worked for me but it just did! In fact, it was the first time that I made this dish. The best part about the competition is the fact that it’s global and you get to mingle with a lot of people from different cultures and nationality. There should be more such opportunities,” said the spunky 21-year-old who thinks “life is too short to be serious all the time”.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Mohannad Jaradat from The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, in Jordan, wants to put Jordanian cuisine on the food map and do “something interesting” with the food he has grown up eating. “I want to make Jordanian cuisine contemporary,” said Mohannad, further adding, “I thought the size of the shrimp would be bigger so that affected my presentation. This round was better than the first round and I was more relaxed. This kitchen space was more comfortable to work in as well,” said the 20-year-old.
Chanchal Ghosh
Photo Credit: Chanchal Ghosh
Egon Le Roux from South African Academy of Culinary Arts was grateful for being in the Super 10. “I am just happy to be here because I didn’t expect I would be in the top 10. So, I am very grateful. And it’s also my first time travelling out of my country,” said the 19-year-old.