Jose Oscar Casimiro Segundo, chef of Ajumú restaurant in Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico is the best young chef in Central America and the Caribbean. He will now represent the region at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Grand Finale, the international contest to find the best young culinary talent in the world.
During a morning of competitive cooking at CESSA University in Mexico City, 10 of Central America and the Caribbean’s finest young chefs faced off in front of judges Mikel Alonso from Biko, Mario Castrellón from Maito, Edgar Núñez from Sud 777, Martha Ortiz from Dulce Patria and Saverio Stassi from Pat’e Palo.
Despite tough competition from the other nine hand-picked semi-finalists, Segundo’s dish ‘Barbacoa y cenizas’ received a unanimous vote from the judges, being declared the best on the day.
Barbacoa y cenizas has its roots in pre-Hispanic gastronomy, when rabbit meat was cooked and eaten, pre- the Spanish conquest. The preparation of the rabbit is inspired by the ‘barbacoa de hoyo’ cooking method, an ancestral process still practiced in Mexico.
“This is one of the happiest moments of my life. It’s the consummation of effort, dedication and the support of the people who love me. I feel very grateful with S.Pellegrino for encouraging young culinary talent, for allowing me this experience and for giving me the opportunity to represent Mexico through my cooking,” exclaimed the jubilant young chef.
Segundo has worked in respected restaurants such as La Leche in Puerto Vallarta and Hueso in Guadalajara, both in Jalisco. He will have the chance to hone his skills alongside mentor Mikel Alonso, the Basque chef from the Biko restaurant in Mexico, in the coming months.
The duo will eventually travel to Milan together in May of next year, where the young chef will face the ultimate test, putting his carefully curated skills to the test, competing against 20 other world finalists.
The young chefs will all be evaluated individually by the top chef jury known as the Seven Sages, but only one contestant will be named S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018.