New Delhi: The countdown has begun for Season IV of the world’s biggest culinary extravaganza, the International Young Chef Olympiad (YCO), organized by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM). YCO 2018 promises to be bigger and better than all previous editions, with teams from more than 50 countries competing for the winner’s trophy, a cash prize of USD 10,000 and unparalleled international acclaim for the perfect kick-start to their careers! The event is scheduled to take place from January 28 to February 2, 2018 and is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and various state tourism departments.
YCO 2018 was flagged off with a Lucky Draw held recently at The Double Tree by Hilton in London, wherein the fifty participating countries were divided into five groups from Group A to E – with Team India falling in Group A. The curtain raiser was attended by the celebrity chefs who will judge the mega competition. Dr Suborno Bose, the Chairman of the Young Chef Olympiad 2018 Committee and Mr. Ahmed Abdullah, Member of the Young Chef Olympiad 2018 Committee and Director of IIHM Delhi, were also present on the occasion.
Expressing his gratitude on the outstanding support that YCO 2018 is receiving from the culinary industry across the world, Dr. Suborno Bose said, “The Young Chef Olympiad was conceptualized as a platform for young chefs-in-training from around the world to interact and showcase their talent. We are glad to see a great response from the international community, who have come together to make this event a great success over the past three editions. We have put India at the center of the culinary map of the world. In future, we intend to make Young Chef Olympiad bigger with over 100 countries participating in our next edition.”
Ten celebrity chefs from across the world will jointly shoulder the responsibility of selecting the winner of YCO 2018. The Chairperson of the Jury Panel for YCO 2018 will be the legendary Prof. David Foskett (OBE), who is the author of the bestselling book ‘Practical Cookery & Theory of Catering’ and an Emeritus Professor at the London School of Hospitality and Tourism, University of West London. The star chefs who will be on the jury are Chef Chris Galvin, Chef John Wood, Chef Enzo Oliveri, Zenobia Nadirshaw, Ron Scott, Shaun Kenworthy, Chef Udoleick, Chef Andreas Mueller and Chef Karl Guggenmos.
IIHM’s own team of chefs led by Padmashri awardee Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will also judge the competition. IIHM brand ambassador Chef Ranvir Brar and celebrity chef Kunal Kapoor will also be present. Other guest judges will include Chef Saurav Sahai, Chef Abhijit Ghosh and Chef Pradip Rosario among others.
The 2018 Olympiad has three rounds as compared to four rounds in previous years. The opening ceremony will be held at the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi. The first round of the competition for each team will take place in Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. Round II and the Grand Finale are scheduled to take place in Kolkata at the Hyatt Regency and the IIHM Campus.
Before the finals, a special event will be organized for all the participants and their mentors. A symposium will be held for the mentors at the Hyatt Regency on the penultimate day, which will be followed by a special cooking session, not a part of the competition. Called the ‘United World of Young Chefs’, this event will have each student prepare their national dish. At the end of the evening, the finalists’ names will be announced. The Grand Finale will be on February 2 and the winner will be crowned the same day.
The contestants will be marked on a host of parameters, including their culinary skills and technique, adherence to good health and safety and hygiene practice, working methods, minimal waste and best use of ingredients, professional appearance, attitude, dish presentation, taste and flavour.
YCO 2018 contestant from India is Surya Shekhar Roy Chowdhury from IIHM Kolkata. Surya was shortlisted after a rigorous screening process involving candidates from all parts of the country and based out of varied culinary practices’ backgrounds. Surya is very enthusiastic about the opportunity; he said, “Representing the country at a prestigious stage such as YCO is like a dream come true for any aspiring chef. I feel extremely proud and privileged to represent India at YCO 2018 and will leave no stone unturned in making my country proud.” So far no Indian has ever grabbed the YCO crown; it’ll be interesting to see if Surya can successfully set a new record.
The primary aim of the YCO establishment is to create a harmonious platform for interaction of young culinary minds from around the world on a single stage, to display the creative and innovative aspects of developing outstanding chefs. YCO also aims at creating camaraderie and goodwill among nations by connecting them through the world’s most spoken language – food.