Jerome Calayag wins the 2021 edition of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy. Alessandro Bergamo is second

«The dish from the Italian chef was extraordinary. The winner only exceeded him in originality» said Enrico Bartolini, one of the six judges in the finals in Milan

03-11-2021
Winner Jerome Ianmark Calayag came at the Gran Fi

Winner Jerome Ianmark Calayag came at the Gran Finale with mentor David Ljungqvist, chef and patron at Portal in Stockholm, where Calayag works

Jerome Ianmark Calayag, from restaurant Portal in Stockholm, is the winner of the Gran Finale of the international S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2021 competition: Calayag, regional finalist for the UK and North Europe conquered the jury with a vegetarian dish with an evocative name: Humble Vegetables. The Italian finalist, Alessandro Bergamo came only second. He comes from restaurant Cracco in Milan, and presented a dish called Better an egg today or a hen tomorrow?

Alessandro Bergamo during the award ceremony

Alessandro Bergamo during the award ceremony

The response to this question was given to Identità Golose right after the announcement of the results by Enrico Bartolini, one of the six judges who decided on the competition: «Better a chicken today, if the chicken is from Alessandro Bergamo. Who presented an absolutely exceptional dish, which could be served in any one of the best restaurants in the world. He has managed to give chicken a luxurious identity, to which we're not used in Italy, doing a masterful job with the skin, showing detailed skills worthy of a pastry chef. It was the extraction of the flavours of the vegetables, the concentration of the preparations, however, that made Jerome Calayag's dish more original».

Enrico Bartolini during the competition

Enrico Bartolini during the competition

The jury: on top of Bartolini, there were Mauro Colagreco, Manu Buffara, Gavin Kaysen, Clare Smyth and Andreas Caminada

The jury: on top of Bartolini, there were Mauro ColagrecoManu BuffaraGavin KaysenClare Smyth and Andreas Caminada

Finally, the third place in this edition of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2021 went to Kevin Wong, of Meta Restaurant in Singapore, finalist for Asia, with a dish called Celebration of a Duck. All three, going back to what Enrico Bartolini said, presented signature dishes of the highest quality: «It hardly felt like a competition among "young chefs": each one of the dishes, and this also applies to the other finalists, showed the great professionalism of their creators. The standards of the competition were very high, the timing was perfect, the dishes were very elaborated, very different from one another, depicting the personality of each author. This thing struck me very much: each dish was recognisable; you could immediately notice the talent of its chef. With your eyes closed, only based on the preparations, you could tell the chef behind it and the style of the restaurant where they work». 

The dish from Jerome Ianmark Calayag, Humble Vegetables

The dish from Jerome Ianmark CalayagHumble Vegetables

Jerome Ianmark Calayag's dish was made of a purée of roasted carrots and smoked butter acting as the base for the chargrilled carrots paired with a reduction of carrots and then a flan of Jerusalem artichokes with röra (a brunoise of Jerusalem artichokes and apples, sunflower seeds and chives), fried leek, roasted leek and carrot glaze, sauce of roasted vegetables. «The inspiration – said Enrico Bartolini – was a Swedish skewer of entrails, which he reinterpreted giving a carrot the main role: the texture was exceptional, the flavour was in balance with the umami and the notes of roots and vegetables. The vegetable sauce was extraordinary, it blended every element in the dish, transforming this take on street food into a luxurious dish that showed off both the craftmanship and the creativity of this chef».

The dish from Alessandro Bergamo, Better an egg today or a hen tomorrow?

The dish from Alessandro BergamoBetter an egg today or a hen tomorrow?

Bergamo at work during the competition. «He stood out thanks to his precision and neatness», said his mentor Antonia Klugmann

Bergamo at work during the competition. «He stood out thanks to his precision and neatness», said his mentor Antonia Klugmann

«I'm very satisfied with my performance – second-placed Alessandro Bergamo told Identità Golose right after the ceremony. With my dish I wanted to show that with simple products, but handled with savoir faire, intelligence and the skills of a chef, you can make a great dish. We don't necessarily need noble or expensive products: a simple chicken breast can be enhanced to the highest standards thanks to our ideas. I'm happy with how I worked during the contest. I believe many noticed my commitment and performance. This experienced has made me richer: I've met wonderful people, both among the judges and the other contestants, and it will surely be an important step in my career. I want to say thanks to Antonia Klugmann, with whom I worked very well. She helped me, I could count on her in every moment».

Antonia Klugmann

Antonia Klugmann

Antonia Klugmann, right after the ceremony, also shared words of appreciation and affection for Bergamo: «I'm very happy with Alessandro's work and I'm proud I could support him in this final. The work and humility with which he's approached this adventure were extraordinary: thanks to him, Italy has reached an unprecedented result in this competition. I really hope he can preserve all the beautiful relationships he's built during the contest. Personally, I will take with me, after this experience, a marvellous feeling of how a contest like this one can urge people to reach excellence».

Stefano Marini

Stefano Marini

Stefano Marini, CEO of group Sanpellegrino, commented this 2019-2021 edition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy: «I'd like to thank all the participants, judges, mentors, and all the staff of S.Pellegrino for their extraordinary work which has allowed us to create such a beautiful and meaningful edition. The Gran Finale is only one element of the rich Academy project: it's a community of over 1000 young chefs from 70 countries around the world, connected to each other and to many senior chefs. It's a permanent lab, that offers constant mentoring to these talents, and regular opportunities to increase their knowledge and technique. This is the most important goal for us, and it's also our way of contributing to the future of gastronomy. Gastronomy, restaurants, are a crucial part of the history of S.Pellegrino, since it was established 120 years ago, and this is our way of giving back something we received».

The winner is announced

The winner is announced

The 2021 contest also introduced three new awards which had the clear goal of stimulating protagonists and public to think of how the restaurant industry can influence a change in society, the impact it can have far beyond the walls of a restaurant. All 36 finalists in the Gran Finale were invited to take part, offering them another precious opportunity for networking and sharing with some of the most influential interpreters of world gastronomy.

The S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility – given by the Sustainable Restaurant Association to the chef most capable of following the principle that food is better when it's sustainable – had South African chef Callan Austin win. Today he works at Chefs Warehouse Tintswalo in Hout Bay, Cape Town, and has presented a dish called The Ghost Net.

The Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy was voted by the 12 mentors of the Final, one per each region, and was given to the chef whose dish best interpreted a pairing of different cultures, an example of the growing global trend of borderless cuisine. The award was given to Lebanese Elissa Abou Tasse, for her dish Adam's Garden.

The Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thinking Award was voted by the Fine Dining Lovers online community, and given to the young talent that best represented his vision and gastronomic philosophy through a dish coherent with the principles on which it is inspired. They chose an Italian chef, from Sicily, but for many years at work in Spain: Andrea Ravasio, from restaurant Kai in Tenerife, for his dish El Domingo del Campesino

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

SEE ALSO

S. Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2021: the story of the first day of the international competition
Creativity is like... a banana peel: Massimo Bottura at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Brain Food forum

 


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