On being Griffa’s mentor

The super finals of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef are to be tomorrow. An interview with Cristina Bowerman who coached the Italian candidate

25-06-2015
Paolo Griffa, sous chef at Piccolo Lago in Verbani

Paolo Griffa, sous chef at Piccolo Lago in Verbania and Italian candidate at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year, with his mentor Cristina Bowerman, chef at Glass Hostaria, Rome. Tomorrow Griffa will have to compete with 19 young talents from around the world. The winner is to be announced around midnight

It is the eve of the super finals of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, the first edition of a contest that will make a lot of noise in the years to come. Tomorrow at the Mall in Milan some of the most talented chefs in the world will meet. There are 20 finalists who, after passing various selections, will compete in front of the unappeasable jury formed by 7 wise men, 7 world famous chefs such as Gastón Acurio, Yannick Alléno, Massimo Bottura, Margot Janse, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Grant Achatz and Joan Roca.

The name of the winner will be among the following. Paolo Griffa, sous chef at Piccolo Lago in Verbania will be representing Italy. His competitors are: French Paul Feybesse (Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris), Austrian Tobias Wussler (Landhaus Bacher, Mautern an der Donau), Swiss Martin Elschner (Sonnenburg, Zurich), Catalan David Andrés Morera (Abac, Barcelona), Irish Mark Moriarty (The Culinary Counter, Dublin), Russian Eldar Muradov(Errore. Riferimento a collegamento ipertestuale non valido., Saint Petersburg), Norwegian Christian André Pettersen (Spiseriet, Stavanger), Serbian Stefan Barca (Metropolitan Grill, Belgrade), Belgian Alex Joseph (Rouge Tomate in Brussels), Greek Alexandros Tsiotinis (Calypso, Elounda), American Vinson Petrillo (Zero George Street in Charleston, South Carolina), Canadian Paul Moran (CMH-K2 Lodge, Nakusp) South African Angelo Scirocco (Warehouse and Canteen, Cape Town), Peruvian Maria José Jordan (Amaz, Lima), Australian Peter Gunn (Attica, Melbourne), Chinese Zhu Wenyuan (Lady Bund, Shanghai), Japanese Ryoma Shida (Esquisse, Tokyo), South Korean Jinyong Park (Zero Complex, Seoul) and Kirk Westaway of Jann, in Singapore.

Tripe and foie gras, Griffa's dish

Tripe and foie gras, Griffa's dish

Each one of the finalists had a “mentor” chef, a more expert chef who supported the participant in each step of this long eve. Ever since Paolo Griffa won the Italian finals – at Identità Milano, last February – he received the precious tips of Cristina Bowerman of Glass Hostaria in Rome. We called her and asked her about this experience. «Initially, we mostly wrote to each other», the chef explains, «I tried to support his initial enthusiasm with a dutiful: ‘the dish will be the result of your will’». In other words, you need to do it. «I tried to ask many questions and give many tips so that Paolo could arrive to his own conclusions»

After the initial ‘testing’ phase, came the (professional) chemistry: «I’ve never met a guy his age [he’s 23] who is so responsible, kind, precise. He even created the exact timeline of the work he’ll do with his collaborators on Friday. It’s almost scary», she says. «For his dish, Tripe and foie gras, he had sprouts cultivated just for himself. Same for the veal slaughterhouse: just for him. As for foie gras, I’d like to point out he got it from a producer who does not use gavage [force feeding]. It is a remarkable choice, during Expo». Was the consideration mutual, over time? «I hope so. Perhaps if he had had Cedroni or Bottura as his mentor he would have listened to their recommendations blindly. Yet I believe that he later understood he could trust me. Yes, we did like each other».

Tomorrow we’ll see if this understanding will lead to the victory: «The fact Griffa is playing at home has pros and cons: for sure he perfectly knows the raw materials and ingredients he is to use. Yet the presentation will be in English: even though Paolo’s English is not bad at all, English-speaking chefs have an advantage. I will coach him all day long, just like a trainer in the Davis Cup, on the edge of the court». Good luck.

The icon of the award

The icon of the award

Throughout the day two more awards will be given, linked to the 2015 Best Chef-Designer Couple. The first will be given thanks to the votes of the food and fashion enthusiasts participating in the event, the second will be the result of the online vote on Vogue.it, the online edition of the magazine, where one can and vote the dishes made by the chefs and the sketches of the designers. Another prestigious prize will go to the Best Designer voted by a jury led by Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and editorial director of Condé Nast Italia and formed by Massimiliano Giorgetti, Ennio Capasa, Alberta Ferretti, Sara Maino, Marlene Taschen and Giò Marconi. Designer Vivetta is the one paired with Griffa.

The official contest rules are published on www.finedininglovers.com.


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