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Italy Wins Gold in World’s Biggest Culinary Olympiad “Young Chef Olympiad”, Singapore wins Silver and Iceland Bronze

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The 8th International IIHM Young Chef Olympiad drew to a close with a glittering Closing Ceremony organised at IIHM Kolkata’s Global Campus. Matteo Cignetti of Italy won the coveted gold trophy, a digital certificate, a cheque for USD 5,000 and was crowned Best Young Chef of 2022. The silver went to Chong Jia De of Singapore while Halldor Haflidason of Iceland bagged bronze.

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After seven eventful days across six continents and 24 time zones, a remarkable edition of the world’s Biggest Culinary Battle came to a close. Connecting over 50 countries of the world through state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure, YCO22, was one of the biggest in size and scale with 176 cameras catching all the action of 40 participants, 200 judges, 150 hospitality stalwarts. The Closing Ceremony, on the online platform, was as grand and exciting as the offline event. IIHM Global Campus in Kolkata had turned into YCO Global Studio, that was the nerve centre of all the action that was happening over the seven days of this mega culinary event. The winners, connected over video conferencing at different ends of the world and sitting in different time zones, rejoiced and celebrated their win on video, as their names were announced by Prof David Foskett, Chairman of the Jury, YCO and Padma Shri Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the Principal Judge of YCO.

Besides the top three, YCO 2022 had a long list of special category winners. The Plate Trophy round held with the next best ranked between 11 to 20 in the competition, went to Gayane Simonyan of Armenia. The Kitchen Cut Management Award went to Switzerland. The Best Vegetarian Dish went to England while the Best Crème Caramel Dish went to Bulgaria.  

Six Mentor Awards were given away based on each of the mentor’s recommendations about their respective participants. The awards went to Nigeria, Canada, Italy, Nepal, Spain, and England. The six Best Young Chef Ambassador Awards went to India, Mexico, Switzerland, Iceland, Greece, and Namibia. Participants were also marked on Best Hygiene and Kitchen Practice maintained during competition and this award went to four participants from Greece, Iceland, Iran and Nepal. The Best Knife Skills Award went to four participants from Iran, Italy, Canada and Namibia.

Three special awards of The Spirit of YCO 2022 went to Kulsum Hussin, CEO, Welcome Skills International School of Hospitality, Bangladesh, Chef Andreas Mueller, Programme Director (International Cuisine) at VTC, Hong Kong, who was also one of the chief judges at YCO 2022 and Chef Enzo Oliveri, Sicilian Celebrity Chef with Six Italian Restaurants in London and Sicily.

Organised by the International Hospitality Council (IHC) and hosted by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), YCO 2022 was a larger and more inclusive edition thanks to the technological advancement that broke all barriers.

YCO 2022 had a brilliant panel of esteemed judges from around the world. The event was led by Prof David Foskett, Chairman of the Jury and Chief Judge, Chef Andreas Muller, Programme Director (International Cuisine) at VTC, Hong Kong. Michelin-starred chefs Chris Galvin, co-founder Galvin Restaurants and John Wood, the Founder and Director of Kitchen Cut, Chef Gary Maclean, National Chef of Scotland, Chef Stuart Littlejohn, former Executive Chef of Oxford and Cambridge Club, UK, Sicilian Chef Enzo Oliveri, Chef George Smith, Lecturer TU Dublin University, Chef Garth Stroebel, South African chef, Chef Brian Turner, celebrity TV chef and President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts were senior judges of the competition among several other iconic culinary professionals from around the world. Other renowned chef judges of the competition included Chef Stephen Hogan, Executive Chef, The Corinthian Palace Hotel, Malta, Chef Geoff Acott, MBE, Fund Manager Army Catering Training Trust, England, Sharad Dewan and several other renowned chef judges.

YCO 2022 had a very important and significant theme that aims to achieve the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A special award, the Zenobia Nadirshaw Diamond Research Award went to students who had done research on the SDGs and on how to achieve them to make the world a better place to live. Four awards in this category went to Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Italy.

YCO 2022 successfully connected the world on a single virtual platform and left everyone awestruck with its scale and organisation by IIHM. From the Opening Ceremony, the cook-offs, the United World of Young Chefs, the symposiums and even the glamorous Closing Ceremony saw seamless connection of participants, mentors and judges from different geographies and time zones together at the same time on the same platform. “YCO 2022 has been exemplary in showing how we can beat a pandemic and the obstacles that it brings with it and we have done it together. This has been an incredible YCO with the support of the countries, mentors, judges and everyone who was involved. It has been tough for everyone including those who have even tested Covid positive during the competition. YCO 2022 has shown the light of hope and positivity to the hospitality industry and I think this is the beginning of good days again. We are absolutely committed to the UN SDGs and we are also proud and grateful to the UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili for his support. This YCO was dedicated to the SDGs and it is an honour to be able to be associated with these goals,” said Dr Suborno Bose, CEO, International Hospitality Council (IHC) and Founder, YCO.

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