Incredible India.  Incredible opportunity

The 6th international Young Chef Olympiad in India was just that and more,  and I feel extremely privileged to have been able to mentor and assist Egon le Roux in his preparation for the Olympiad.

The competition is very much the expected Indian glitz and sparkle with a dazzling opening ceremony where all participating countries carried their flags dressed in national dress in Delhi, and an equally impressive closing ceremony in Kolkata.

But the Olympiad is so much more than that. With renowned judges such as Brian Turner, Andreas Muller, Anton Edelmann and Chris Galvin and the top culinary academies in the world being represented, it truly is the one of the most serious and challenging culinary competitions in the world for students.

In 2019 SAACA student, Matthew Potgieter did extremely well and won the acclaimed Plate Award, which essentially means that he was  placed  11th of 60 countries. This is really an enormous achievement as competitors come from  the most acclaimed culinary schools in the world and have teams of chefs training them for months on end and some have  even competed in as much as 12 international competitions prior to YCO.

Although we come from a small private school in the Eastern Cape, it was clear that we do not have to stand back with regards to knowledge, skill and experience.

We proved this point again this year with Egon being placed in the top 10 in the world along with Malaysia, South Korea, England, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, Scotland, Jordan and the Philippines.

An enormous honour which was the result of hard work, preparation and confidence. He was also presented with the mentor nominee award for best ambassador.

What is most exciting for me as a lecturer and mentor is the external validation that we are equipping our students well, not only to compete internationally but to succeed in the industry .

Another highlight was witnessing the pleasure Egon had experiencing the wonders of travel for the first time, the cultural differences, spices and naturally, the food in another country!

But most importantly, what this opportunity has meant for Egon’s future and career is just incredible. He has made friends and connections for life and I am sure that they will still play a role in each other’s careers in the future.

Food really is an universal language that connects and unites us regardless of culture, politics, religion or race.  This was proven again during the YCO as mentors and students made connections and formed friendships within hours of arriving in India.

Erika Grebe