PANAJI: Goa played host to the world’s largest culinary competition, Young Chef Olympiad, hosting 10 countries out of the total 55 participating nations for the first time. The international competition, which was conceptualised and executed by IIHM, was held on the institute’s campus at Nuvem and featured eminent international and Indian chefs as judges. The first two rounds of the Olympiad were held in Goa, featuring contestants from Singapore, Nepal, Oman, Seychelles, Italy, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Iceland and Thailand. International Chefs Stefan Hogan, Stuart Littlejohn, David Graham and Chef Avijit Ghosh from India were the judges for the Goa leg of the event. Chef Paul Jervis was the adjudicator for the event. All the 55 countries will head to Kolkata for the final 2 rounds. They will be judged based on their performance across all four rounds. The winner and two runners up will be announced at a grand closing ceremony at Nico Park in Kolkata. This year also includes several special awards such as best vegetarian dish, rising star award and plate trophy. The contestants will compete for the YCO Trophy, $10,000 cash prize and a Gold Toque.
In the first round of the competition, the participants prepared four portions of a boned chicken dish with accompanying garnish in one-and-half-hour. The cheftestants were judged on their basic skills, innovation and creativity. In round 2, the competition got a little tougher as the participants will be judged on cooking technique, portioning, presentation, colour and finesse of the dishes. This was the vegetarian round and they had to prepare a dish suitable for lunch at a Bistro or Brasserie along with a Pear Flan Bourdaloue and a basic custard sauce based on the ingredients provided to them. The grand finale and the plate trophy finals will test the participants’ creativity, innovation, cooking skills and professional good practice in a time bound environment. The finalists in both categories will be given two hours to prepare four portions of a vegetarian starter and four portions of a King Tiger Prawn main course dish with the same basket of ingredients. Both dishes must be prepared to be served in Brasserie Restaurant. The grand finalists will be provided with a secret ingredient and they will have to write about the health benefits of this secret ingredient and hand it over to the judges before commencement of the final competition. A panel of distinguished international judges comprising celebrity, iconic chefs from across the world presided over the competition at various stages. The special category of Ambassador and Mentors Awards were judged by Prof Dr Zenobia Nadirshaw MBE and Kulsum Hussain, CEO, Welcome Skills, Bangladesh and UK.