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International culinary battle comes to Goa

For the first time, Goa is all set to play host to the world’s largest culinary competition, Young Chef Olympiad 2020 (YCO). The sixth edition of YCO will be held in India from January 28 to February 2 across Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Goa, and Kolkata and will have international chefs like Shaun Kenworthy, Stefan Hogan, Stuart Littlejohn, David Graham, and more, as judges.

The first two rounds will be held in Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru and Goa. The top 10 chefs who will qualify after their performance at the first two rounds, will cook in the third round that will be held at the IIHM Global Campus in Kolkata on February 2.

Ten of the participating nations will be hosted by IIHM, Goa. The theme this year is ‘Sustainability’. Besides, this, is an underlying message of unity and peace among nations through its all-embracing global character.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, IIHM culinary director, celebrity chef and restaurateur, chef Shaun Kenworthy said that the competition is growing every year. “This year we have 55 countries participating. We invite one student and mentor from very good institutes around the world,” he said, adding that he believes that food is something that binds the whole world together. “When chefs come together they speak the same language and I think they can change the world,” he added.

Director, IIHM Goa, Shabnam Jana said that this being the first time that the event will be hosted in Goa, it is a big moment. “Our students will get the opportunity to work, interact with all the participants and mentors, international chefs and judges and make a lifelong connection with them,” she said, adding that keeping the theme in mind, they will be working around sustainability, ie, promoting use of local ingredients, local food that is non-genetically modified, more organic ingredients and helping promote people with more healthy living. “We are trying to do away with single use plastic as it is our responsibility to make sure we leave the world to our next generation in a better condition,” she said.

Director, IIHM Ahmedabad, Sameer Mehta, who was also present said that in this entire scenario globally with lot of tensions, YCO and United World of Young Chefs provide a platform wherein people from different cultures, different nations come together and work together to create food which is one of the essential commodity that we live by. “Being part of the competition, I have seen that when people work together they forget all the conventions and what remains is peace, harmony and happiness and I think this also is very important part of sustainability,” he said.

Also part of YCO, corporate executive chef, Radisson Blu Resort Goa Cavelossim, KS Mahesh said that Goa has been a holiday destination and it has been frequented by tourists from across the world since 1960 and continues to influence so many people from all over the world. “The total in flex of foreign tourism has challenged the culinary skill of hotels in Goa to deliver globally recognised quality food. Chefs from across the country and world have been choosing Goa to seek employment opportunity because Goa is the biggest culinary hub,” said Mahesh adding that this year they should take a resolution to support local communities to elevate Goan cuisine and edify each and every person coming to Goa about Goan food and culture.

The Olympiad will commence with a Goan welcome ceremony on January 30, 8 a.m. at the IIHM Campus in Goa. The first round of the competition will begin at 9 a.m., with a time limit of one and a half hour. The dishes will be judged without indication of country or contestant name. The second round will be held on January 31 with the same rules.

The contestants will head to Kolkata to participate in the final round on February 1. The winners will be announced at the closing ceremony on February 2 amidst a colourful evening of celebration. The prizes include a cash prize of $10,000, the winner’s trophy, and a gold toque.

And it does not end here. Introduced last year, the contestants will also compete for the Plate Trophy, also scheduled for February 2. Other prizes up for grabs include the ‘Rising Star Award’, ‘Best Vegetarian Dish’ ‘Best Dessert’, ‘Best Hygienic Practice’, etc.

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