Sixth International Young Chef Olympiad Kick-Starts With Great Fanfare In Delhi

Culinary students from 55 countries to compete for YCO 2020 Champion Title and $10,000 at an intense battle to be held across 5 cities from 29th January to 2nd February.

The sixth edition of the International Young Chef Olympiad, which is the world’s biggest culinary battle for student chefs, has kick-started with a Grand Opening Ceremony at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Delhi. Organised by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), in partnership with the International Hospitality Council (IHC) London, the Olympiad will host student chefs from 55 countries, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Scotland, England, Singapore, USA, Spain, Hong Kong, South Korea and Indonesia, among others.

YCO 2020 has adopted the theme of ‘Sustainability’ to encourage the culinary world to work together for a greater cause of environmental protection.

Dignitaries from more than fifteen Embassies attended the Opening Ceremony. Other key attendees included Dr Suborno Bose (CEO-IHC and Founder YCO), David Foskett (MBE) (Chairman, IHC and YCO 2020) as well as world-renowned chefs who form the panel of judges for YCO 2020, including Brian Turner CBE, David Graham, Andreas Muller, Chris Galvin, Dr. Zenobia Nadirshaw, John Wood, Stuart Littlejohn, Henri Brosi, Andy Varma and Enzo Oliveri among others.

The ceremony commenced with a flag march by the contestants, who entered the auditorium dressed in their country’s traditional attire and carrying their national flag with immense pride and was followed by a Bharatnatyam performance by students from IIHM. The YCO 2020 Champion Trophy and the Plate Trophy were also unveiled at the event. A Gold Toque, which is a new introduction to the competition, was also revealed.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Suborno Bose said, “The 6th International Young Chef Olympiad promises to be a mega event of the year. With 55 countries coming together under one roof to celebrate the diversity of food from across borders, YCO 2020 is not just the biggest culinary competition in the world but also a global platform fostering the spirit of youth, friendship, inclusiveness and camaraderie. Moreover, by making sustainability the theme for this year, we are championing the cause with the involvement of young people who will help determine and shape the future through global impact."

Following the Opening Ceremony, a 5-day long culinary battle will begin from 29th January across five Indian cities – Delhi, Pune, Goa, Bengaluru and Kolkata. The competitors will undertake 3 rounds of challenges to fight for the ‘YCO 2020 Champion’ Trophy, a cash prize of USD 10,000 and a Gold Toque.

The Overall Champion, the winner of the Plate Trophy as well as the winners of 25 award categories, including ‘Rising Star’, ‘Best Vegetarian Dish’, ‘Best Dessert’, ‘Best Hygienic Practice’, ‘Best Ambassador’, ‘Sustainability Award’, ‘Mentor’s Nominee’, ‘Kitchen Cut Award’ and ‘IHC Foundation Hospitality PR Champion’, will be announced in Kolkata on 2nd February. 

The first two rounds of YCO 2020 will be held in Delhi, Pune, Goa and Bengaluru. In the first round, the contestants will be required to prepare 4 portions of a boned chicken dish with accompanying garnish in one and half hours. In this round, they will be judged on their basic skills, innovation and creativity. In round 2, the contestants will be required to prepare a vegetarian dish suitable for a lunch menu in a Bistro or Brasserie and Pear Flan Bourdaloue (Almond and Pear Flan) served with a basic custard sauce from a basket of ingredients and based on their own recipes.

The top 10 contestants from these rounds will compete in the Finale, scheduled in Kolkata on 2nd February. In the Finale, the contestants will be given 2 hours to prepare 4 portions of a vegetarian starter and 4 portions of a King Tiger Prawn main course dish from the same basket of ingredients. Contestants in the Finale will also be provided with a secret ingredient to test their innovation and creativity. The Plate Trophy, which was introduced last year, will be held on the same day where the contestants holding positions 11 to 20 in the first two rounds will compete.

David Foskett said, “The Young Chef Olympiad is a celebration of diversity and integration with a vision to unite the world of hospitality and culinary arts and to build bridges, promote understanding, celebrate diversity and culture. My advice to young chefs is that they need to have dedication and passion and it should reflect in their work. I think they need to enjoy what they are doing and never give up.”

Padma Shri Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will be the Principal Judge and Mentor while David Foskett (MBE) will be the Chairman of the Jury. Chef Brian Turner, who is the President of the Royal Academy of Culinary, will be the Chief Judge and Chef Andreas Muller from Hong Kong will be the Deputy Chief Judge.

Talking about her preparations, Jolene Sng from At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy, Singapore said, “I have always been intrigued by the endless possibilities and methods of creating a dish. Participation at YCO will be different as it is overseas, and not in my comfort zone. I believe, for an individual living in Singapore, it will be a great challenge to use different styles and ingredients to create something unique forsomeone from a different country”.

Varun Tej Reddy from IIHM Hyderabad, who is representing India at this global event, while sharing his excitement, said, “It is a great experience being part of YCO 2020 and it is a moment of pride for me to represent India. I am very enthusiastic to see all the legends of the culinary world and I am all ready to impress them with my skills. I started preparing for this competition a month ago. I have spent hours on creation, innovation and planning, followed bymaking changes to my recipes and then finalizing the tastes, which required lots of effort and hard work. I hope it all pays off.”

Showcasing the multicultural culinary diversity of different countries, YCO 2020 will also bring together the student chefs and chef mentors for the 'United World of Young Chefs' at the Hyatt Regency in Kolkata on 1st February. This event will provide a great opportunity for the 55 participating countries to present their national cuisine to a global culinary audience.

The winners of the past editions of YCO were Ashwin Nicholas Oon from Malaysia (2015), Daniella Germond from Canada (2016), Tham Jiajun Mathew from Singapore (2017), Lai Jia Yi from Malaysia (2018) and Cyrene Randrianasolo from France (2019).

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