The Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy: meet the finalists
Acqua Panna is enjoyed on the best restaurant tables around the world for its ability to accompany and enhance all kinds of cuisine. The same idea is at the heart of the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy, conceived to emphasize the growing culinary trend of 'Chefs without Borders'.
This prestigious award will be presented at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Grand Finale 2021, to be held in Milan from October 28-30, 2021.
The 12 nominees for the award were voted for by local mentors during the regional finals of the competition, based on their success in connecting different cultures on a plate. During the Grand Finale one of them will be announced as the global winner.
Here's a summary of the 12 finalists, their winning signature dishes, and - in the words of the young chefs themselves - what kind of culinary connection each one represents:
Joshua Gregory won the Acqua Panna Award for the Pacific Region with his signature dish ‘Duck and Red Fruits'. In his words, "When creating dishes I always try to attach them to a memory and use simplicity and technique to tell a story. In this case, the dish is inspired by some hungry ducks, during my early years as a chef, hopping over the garden fence and helping themselves to all our new rhubarb!”
Tor Aik Chua was the Acqua Panna Award winner of the Asia regional final with his signature dish 'Whole Kinmedai with Malaysian Elements'. "The idea of nose-to-tail and how to be more sustainable are the foundations of my cooking," explains the young chef.
Óscar Dayas Rodríguez was the Acqua Panna Award winner of the Iberian & Mediterranean Region final with his dish 'The Transhumance from the Coast to the Summit'. "I believe that gastronomy has the ability to tear down borders and when you believe in gastronomy as something global, it is much easier, especially when an international brand like S.Pellegrino gives us this opportunity."
Abraham Almazan was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Latin America heat, with his dish 'A day in the Sierra Negra'. "I want my plate to say 'this is Mexico', a mouthful of our land, a breath of a Mexican field, where all the magic begins, before the kitchen crop."
Łukasz Moneta won the regional Acqua Panna Award in the Central Europe final with his personal interpretation of 'Sturgeon and Snails'. "I love to see smiles on the faces of people trying my dishes, it doesn't matter if it’s a guest in the restaurant, my grandmother or my girlfriend, I just love to cook for people."
Lari Helenius from Finland won the Acqua Panna Award for the Euro Asia region, thanks to his snappily-named dish 'Different Parts of Cod, Grilled Butter, Jellied Oyster, Crispy 'muesli' Made of Grains and Cod Skin and Creamy Fish Sauce'. "I used the cod's loin, belly, skin and bones. And every part makes this dish complete with different textures."
Vivien Rouleaud was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the North West Europe regional final. with his signature dish 'Beginning of Spring... Squab returns!'. "My dish is prepared with local products, it is a zero waste dish that represents my philosophy to work every element to the end."
Elissa Abou Tasse from Lebanon was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Africa & Middle East regional final with a dish named 'Adam's Garden'. "Adam’s garden shines a spotlight on recreating history and cultures," said the jury. "Trespassing with a very unique show of creativity whilst using some very well-known products/techniques, yet rarely used in the world of gastronomy."
Tommaso Tonioni was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Italy & South East Europe final with his dish 'Lol 'Eel' Pop - Honey from the Beach & Potatoes from the Lake'. "Starting with bees, this dish uses all the ingredients that the bee produces, from wax to pollen and honey, transforming them with modern techniques."
Jeremy Stephens was the Acqua Panna Award winner for the North America region, with his unique take on 'Crawfish Boil'. "My culture resonates through stories, many told with food. It’s my job to continue to tell those stories appropriately."
Andrea Vailati is the finalist for the UK and Northern Europe region with a signature dish named 'Duck Fermented Cabbage and Piadina’. " My dish shows the use of all animals with seasonal ingredients and with Italian influences. That's me on a plate.”
Ho Lam Shek was the Acqua Panna Award winner in the Greater China regional final, presenting 'Stuffed and Marinated Chinese Golden Thread Bream, Fermented Grains, Celtuce, Chenpi Oil'. "I believe that most traditional food allows the ingredients to shine. Water is very important for health and the dishes I created included a Cantonese traditional soup, with water as the main ingredient."
These and indeed all of the chefs involved in the competition are invited to be a part of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, a connected community where young chefs can interact with the most influential figures global gastronomy, through education, mentoring and professional opportunities. Find out more on the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy website.