The International Institute of Hotel Management (IIIHM), in partnership with the International Hospitality Council London, will be organizing the seventh edition of the International Young Chef Olympiad (YCO), which is the world’s biggest Olympiad for culinary students, from 31th January to 6th February. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held virtually with participation of student chefs from 50 countries.
Swetang Ranjan from Ranchi, who is a student at the IIHM Kolkata Campus, will represent India at YCO 2021. Other hospitality and culinary educational institutions whose students will be participating in the upcoming culinary battle include International Culinary Institute (ICI) of VTC (Hong Kong), IIS Almerico Da Schio – Vicenza (Italy), Canadore College (Canada), B.H.M.S. Business & Hotel Management School (Switzerland), International Centre for Culinary Arts (UAE), Kasem Bundit University (Thailand), Turkish Culinary Academy (Turkey), Escola Superior d´Hostaleria de Barcelona (Spain) and Wellington Institute of Technology (New Zealand) among others.
Adopting the theme of ‘Forward Together’, the competition will unite the young talents of the culinary world to champion this virtual culinary battle through their positive action. During the 5-day long intense competition, the contestants will undertake 3 rounds of culinary challenges in their quest to win the coveted YCO 2021 Champion Trophy, a cash prize of USD 10,000 and a validation of their skills by globally renowned experts from the food and hospitality industry.
Talking about YCO 2021, Dr Suborno Bose, the CEO of International Hospitality Council (IHC) and Founder YCO, said, “The COVID-19 Pandemic and an era of social distancing has not deterred our spirit to take the International Young Chef Olympiad to the next level. With eminent hospitality and culinary institutions from 50 countries coming together virtually to celebrate the diversity of food from across the borders, YCO 2021 is not just the biggest culinary competition for student chefs in the world but also a global platform fostering the spirit of youth, friendship, diversity and inclusiveness. Moreover, it brings all the young and talented future stars of the international culinary scene on a single platform where they connect with each other and share insights out of their experiences.”
YCO 2021 will commence on 31st January with a grand opening ceremony and the competition rounds will start from 1st February on Zoom video conferencing. The top 10 contestants as per the scores of the two rounds will compete in the Grand Finale of YCO 2021 on 6th February. The Plate Trophy will also be held on 6th February wherein the contestants holding positions 11 to 20 in the first two rounds will compete. The Olympiad will conclude on 6th February with a closing ceremony, where the YCO 2021 Champion, runners-up and other awardees will be announced. The participants will be competing for awards such as ‘Rising Star’, ‘Best Vegetarian Dish’, ‘Best Hygiene and Kitchen Practice’, ‘Best Chicken Saute Dish’, ‘Ambassador Award’, ‘Mentor Award’, ‘Sustainability Award’, ‘Best Use of Kitchen Cut’ and ‘Best Afternoon Tea Profiteroles’.
This year as the Olympiad is happening online, each participant will be recorded live in his or her own kitchen preparing and producing each of the 3 dishes within the prescribed time and a team of judges will be able to view the work of each participant throughout the entire competition period. Due to the time zones, competing countries will be divided into groups according to their local time’s close proximity. Breakout rooms will be created for each group of judges allowing for the judges to interact throughout the full period of the competition, to discuss each competitor and to mark accordingly.
Padma Shri Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will be the Principal Judge and Mentor for YCO 2021 while Prof David Foskett (MBE) will be the Chairman of the Jury. The panel of judges will include internationally acclaimed judges and celebrity chefs including Chief Judge Chef Brian Turner, the President of the Royal Academy of Culinary and Deputy Chief Judge Chef Andreas Muller from Hong Kong. Other judges in the panel will include Chef Chris Galvin (UK), Chef John Wood (UK), Chef Stuart Littlejohn (UK), Chef Henry Brosi (UK), Chef Andy Varma (UK), Chef Stefan Hogan (Malta), Chef Garth Stroebel (South Africa), Chef Enzo Oliveri (Italy), Chef Ranveer Brar (India), Chef Parvinder Bali (India), Chef Abhijit Saha (India) and many more. The judges will evaluate the contestants on their ability to efficiently manage a food production area keeping in mind factors like health and safety, good hygiene practice, ability to follow a recipe, culinary skills, creativity, etc.
Showcasing the multicultural culinary diversity of different countries, YCO 2021 will also bring together the student chefs and chef mentors for the “United World of Young Chefs”. This event will be held on 3rd February and it will provide a great opportunity for the 50 participating countries to present their national cuisine to a global culinary audience.
Launched in the year 2015, YCO aims to give young student chefs from around the world a platform to showcase their skills and compete at the global level. Through the last six editions of the Olympiad, the world has seen culinary stars being born and dreams being celebrated on the global culinary stage. 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), Cyrene Randrianasolo from France (2019) and Chen Khai Loong from Malaysia (2020).