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S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy
Uplifts Young Asian Chefs

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy
Uplifts Young Asian Chefs

FoodieS Team
06 April 2023

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S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Media Lunch And Industry Roundtable gathered industry players and journalists for an exclusive “10-Hands” menu and thought-provoking discussions on the future of fine dining in Asia.

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Formed in 2020 as a platform to discover, nurture and develop young talents around the world, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition is in its 5th edition. This year, the 2022/23 academy introduced the winner of the Asia Regional competition, Singaporean Chef Ian Goh of Restaurant NAE:UM, at a ten hands media lunch and closed-door industry roundtable on 28 March 2023 at Burnt Ends in Dempsey.

As part of Asia’s 50 Best festivities in Singapore, S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Media Lunch And Industry Roundtable gathered 35 industry players and journalists from Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines for an exclusive “10-Hands” tasting menu by jurors in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Asia Regional competition — Chef Dave Pynt from Burnt Ends (official mentor of Chef Ian Goh for the grand finals in October in Milan), Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn from Le Du, and Chef Pichaya “Pam” Utharntharm from Potong — as well as winner Chef Ian Goh and fellow participant Chef Zee Chan Xu Yu from Labyrinth who won the Social Responsibility Award.

Between the courses, host and TV presenter Rozz Lee took to the stage to host a two-segment discussion panel with the chefs beginning with Chef Pam, Chef Ton, and Chef Zee. They spoke on the merits of sustainability, the differences between young Asian chefs now and then, and the exciting developments in Asia’s fine dining scene. As a newly minted member of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, Chef Zee wants to take the opportunity to showcase the cuisine of his hometown Ipoh and the native ingredients the region has to offer.

The second part of the panel discussion saw Chef Dave Pynt, Chef Ian Goh, and Mitch Walles, Asia Area Manager at Sanpellegrino, speak on whether young chefs need to have had had experience abroad to be successful, if Asia was poised to be (if not already) the center of fine dining, and whether Asian chefs should be judged on the same criteria as chefs from the west. 

Chef Ian remarked in response, “We need to remove the stigma that Asian food is cheap when it can be very refined. You have foraging in Denmark that is widely advertised in documentaries, but we in Asia are doing our own foraging as well. Granted, we might not have the space, but I don’t think we are any lesser because of it.” 

On how Asian chefs can be encouraged to showcase their native cuisine proudly, Chef Dave shared, “I think it’s going to come down to the diners and the support they get from them to embrace what they’re doing to pay properly for it. It’s things like this program and the 50 Best Awards stages they go on that drive young chefs to focus on what cooking means to them (and their friends and family), not what it means to their counterparts. When they get the support from people going to them and dining there, we’ll see an uptick of Asia embracing what it has got to offer.” 

And in anticipation of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition Global Finals in Milan on 6 October, Chef Ian shared, “It’s been ages since I’ve had a proper sleep. This is a real growing experience not just as a chef but as a professional in this industry. I think everyone should be pushing themselves to the limit, and I don’t think I’ve met my limit yet.” 

To officiate the event was Stefano Bolognese, International Business Unit Director at Sanpellegrino, who gave a welcome speech. He shared, “The Academy was created in 2020 and launched at the height of the pandemic, born out of a need to have a platform that lives on beyond the competition and supports the development of young chefs through their careers. As a long-time advocate of culinary excellence, Sanpellegrino truly believes in the transformative power of gastronomy.” 

During the four-course lunch, the three veteran chefs played a supporting role as they took charge of the snacks offered at the reception, the appetizer, dessert, and petit fours. Chef Dave Pynt offered a sample of Burnt Ends’ wood fire cooking in the form of three snacks at reception: Egg Tart, Chicken Taliwang, and Crispy Rice and Roast Beef Bowl, as well as the Petit Fours. 

Chef Pichaya “Pam” Utharntharm of Potong showcased her mastery of Thai-Chinese cuisine with her Mussel Croustade snack offered at reception, along with her dessert course of Soy Sauce Ice Cream and Chinese Spices. And Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn of Le Du presented an appetizer of Thai fine dining with Oyster, Beef, and Scallion.

The two mains fell to the young chefs: Chef Zee Chan Xu Yu’s Hometown Assam Laksa, a deconstructed dish inspired by the young chef’s hometown in Ipoh with fish at its center, and Chef Ian Goh’s winning dish at the Asia Regionals — Heritage Lamb where the meat cooked in five ways in a show of Chinese cooking techniques and flavors as a homage to the spices traded via the Silk Road — and the dish he’ll be competing with at the Global Finals. 

Guests also enjoyed a cocktail reception by Manhattan Bar, one of the world’s best bars from Singapore (#9 Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022, #33 World’s 50 Best Bars 2022), consisting of Cane Reviver cocktail made from Flor de Caña 12 Year Old, pineapple cordial, cold brew coffee, and Sanpellegrino Tonica Oakwood while the Peace & Love cocktail was made from Gin Mare, cucumber cordial, lime juice, basil, green peas, and Sanpellegrino Pompelmo.

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