Jake Kellie in the Winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef South-East Asia Regional Final

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After a day of competitive cooking, Jake Kellie, representing Singapore, has been announced as the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef South-East Asia Regional Final 2017. The young chef took gold ahead of nine of South-East Asia’s most talented chefs, with his signature dish of aged pigeon. He will now represent the region at the global final in May 2018 in Milan, Italy.

10 contestants from Singapore, Indonesia, Maldives, India, Thailand and Malaysia all faced off in front of a line-up of celebrated chefs at the Asian Culinary Institute in Singapore on 23 October 2017

Richard Ekkebus of Amber Restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental (Hong Kong), Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya’s (Australia) and Waku Ghin (Singapore), Mingoo Kang of Mingles (Korea), Chele Gonzalez of Gallery VASK (Phillipines) and Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room & Bar (Hong Kong) were all on hand to adjudicate, taste and evaluate the young chefs’ signature dishes. 

Scores were given to each dish based on their adherence to the competition’s five ‘Golden Rules’: 

  • ingredients
  • skill
  • genius
  • beauty and 
  • message.

However, it was Kellie’s dish that got the group vote, convincing the judges of his ability and capacity to represent the region. 

“It was a unanimous decision. Jake impressed us with his confidence; he was organised and composed, and most importantly, his dish was tasty and technically strong. It was one dish that all of us could finish eating, which is not an easy feat after tasting 10 dishes,” commented chef Richard Ekkebus.

The 27-year-old rising star from Australia re-located to Singapore to take up the reins as head chef at Burnt Ends restaurant just this year and his signature dish was a reflection of his culinary philosophy: simplicity, technique and produce. 

Pigeon, which had been aged in pepper leaves, hay and strawberry gum for two weeks, was the star. The rest of the dish paid tribute to his home country using native Australian ingredients, including a riberry and blackberry compote finished with finger limes, a beetroot salt-baked in wattle seed with roasted pigeon drippings, and a pigeon broth finished with an eight-year-old fortified wine from South Australia. To reflect his culinary journey the plate on which it was served was also made in Australia, and glazed with the ashes from the oven of Burnt Ends.

“I feel happy and humbled to be representing South East Asia,” said an emotional Kellie during the awards ceremony. “Chef Richard Ekkebus is a phenomenal chef, and I’m looking forward to learning from him. I’m in this to represent the region, and also to win. Moving forward, I’ll be perfecting my dish, including bringing more love and care to each component.”

Celebrated chef Richard Ekkebus will be leading Jake Kellie to the Grand Finale as his assigned mentor. “Jake’s dish has a very strong story, as it truly reflects his Australian identity, and we will work to better articulate the ‘message’ behind it for the Grand Finale, he said. “Great chefs who are highly successful today are also highly communicative. He already shows great craftsmanship and we will be working on presenting a stronger message that would differentiate South East Asia from the other competing regions.”

The duo will have plenty of time to work together fine-tuning Jake’s dish and presentation in preparation for the final cook off in Milan in May 2018. As they approach the international finish line at the Grand Finale, Jake will face off against 20 of the world’s most talented young chefs in the global talent search to find the best young chef in the world. The final winner will be chosen by the Seven Sages, a panel of world class chefs, in what will be a life changing moment for the lucky winner.