The fifth edition of the International Young Chef Olympiad (YCO), the World’s biggest culinary competition for student chefs, was inaugurated today with a grand Opening Ceremony at the Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Auditorium in Delhi. HE Sam Chutintorn Gongsakdi, the Ambassador of Thailand to India, was the Guest of Honour on this occasion.
The other key guests included Mr Armen Martirosyan (Ambassador of Armenia to India), Mr Nadir Patel (High Commissioner of Canada to India), Mr Sakir Ozkan Torunlar (Ambassador of Turkey to India), Mr Stephen Borg (High Commissioner of Malta to India), Mr Yogesh Punja (High Commissioner of Fiji to India) and Mr Radu Octavian Dobre (Ambassador of Romania to India). YCO 2019 Judges, including renowned chefslike John Wood, Andreas Muller, Enzo Oliveri, Ron Scott, Abhijit Saha, Andy Varma, Enrico Bricarello, Parvinder Singh Bali, David Graham and many more, also graced the ceremony with their presence.
Organized by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) in partnership with the International Hospitality Council (IHC) London, YCO 2019 will witness participation from student chefs from 50 countries, representing some of the world’s best hospitality and culinary institutions. The competition rounds will be held from 29thJanuary to 2ndFebruary across four cities – Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru and Kolkata – wherein the contestants will compete for the winner’s trophy and a cash prize of $10,000. The participants will be competing for a total of 18 awards this year, including‘The Plate Trophy’,‘The Rising Star Award’, ‘Best Vegetarian Dish’, ‘Best Dessert Dish’, ‘Best Hygiene Practice’ and ‘Mentor’s Nomination Award’.
Speaking about the growth of YCO over the past five years and his vision for its future, Dr Suborno Bose, Chairman of the YCO 2019 Committee and Founder & Chief Mentor of IIHM, said, “While YCO 2015 saw 15 participating countries, in 2019 we are hosting 50 countries, which speaks volumes about the kind of enthusiasm and acceptance we have received from the international culinary fraternity. Now we are planning to build a sustainable model for YCO for the next 50 years. We are looking at not just being stationed in India, but taking the Olympiad abroad to different countries, where it would be easier to unearth even more local talent.”
YCO 2019 Opening Ceremony commenced with the introduction of the participants and their mentors, as they walked on the stage bearing their national flags with pride, amidst thundering applause from the audience. This was followed by scintillating dance and singing performances by the students of some prestigious Delhi-NCR schools. A major attraction of the Opening Ceremony was the unveiling of the YCO 2019 Champion Trophy. The evening concluded with the lighting of the Ceremonial Torch and the oath-taking ceremony for the Judges and the contestants.Speaking about YCO 2019, Prof David Foskett, Chair of IHC and YCO 2019 Jury, said, “This is the biggest and greatest competition in the world, held in the wonderful country of India. It is not just a competition; it is a celebration of culture, friendship and unity through the medium of food. I do urge you to come celebrate with us.”
Launched in 2015, YCO aims to create an international platform to showcase young professional culinary talent from around the world as well as create camaraderie and goodwill among nations by connecting them through the world’s most preferred language – food! The event has grown in leaps and bounds in merely half a decade with the number of participating countries rising from 15 in 2015 to 50 in 2019. This year, apart from YCO regulars such as England, Wales, Canada, Russia, Spain, South Africa, UAE, Switzerland, Thailand, France, Italy, Malaysia and Hong Kong, countries like Indonesia, Iran, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Botswana, Fiji, Namibia, Uganda and Ghana will be participating in the mega culinary battle for the first time.
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) and Lai Jia Yi from Malaysia (2018).
On the sidelines of YCO 2019, a special non-competitive event called the United World of Young Chefs will be organized at Kolkata on 1stFebruary, where all the contestants will get a chance to prepare and present to guests, their national dish.