S.Pellegrino Young Chef is so much more than a contest – it is a true commitment by S.Pellegrino in its continuing support of talents in the world of gastronomy. This year’s contest was won by Yasuhiro Fujio of Japan, in the finals that were held in May, amongst some of the biggest names of fine dining who participated as mentors and members of the Seven Sages. After months of enjoying the whirlwind of excitement and opportunities that came with the exceptional title of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018, S.Pellegrino celebrated the young chef’s victory in Fujio’s home country, Japan. On this occasion, the two winners of the previous editions, Mark Moriarty (2015, UK-Ireland) and Mitch Lienhard (2016, US) were invited to stay in the cities of Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo for a week of experiences that cultivated the exchange of skills and cultural knowledge between the outstanding chefs.
The Rivers of the Ayu Fish, the Inspiration for Fujio’s Signature Dish
The Japan visit of chefs Moriarty and Lienhard included a special stop – the rivers in Wakayama, the waters where the ayu fish is typically found. The ayu fish was the key ingredient of Yasuhiro Fujio’s winning signature dish and is caught only for a short period during the Japanese summer. It was the surroundings of the river, its smells and tastes – Fujio’s warm memories of his childhood – that had formed the complex components of the 2018 S.Pellegrino Young Chef’s dish.
The chefs were further guided through visits to local producers of Wakayama to better understand the origins and processes of remarkable Japanese food products such as soy sauce. They also visited a shojin kitchen where they discovered the intricacies of the traditional Buddhist cuisine, a vegetarian dining style based on religious principles.
Dinner by Three Young Chefs and Mentor Luca Fantin
In Tokyo, Moriarty, Lienhard and Fujio prepared a special dinner alongside Luca Fantin, Fujio’s mentor at S.Pellegrino Young Chef, at Fantin’s Il Ristorante Luca Fantin. Celebrating togetherness, it was a night to remember – for the four chefs who cooked together at this one-off event, but also for the lucky group of guests who were able to take a place at the outstanding restaurant.
Since 2015, S.Pellegrino has expressed its passion for gastronomy through the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, the most exciting talent search for chefs in the world. The unique experience in Japan is just one of many that serve to further the spirit of the competition, that is to nurture talent and passion in gastronomy.