Zih-Yang Chen from Taiwan has been named winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef North-east Asia Regional Final, and will advance to the Grand Finale in Milan next year.
Following a day of competitive cooking at Hsing Wu University in Taiwan on 6 November, Zih-Yang Chen fended off competition from nine other handpicked candidates from Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau, taking gold with his chosen signature dish: 'The Taste of Taiwan'.
A distinguished line-up of chefs, namely
- Umberto Bombana
- André Chiang
- Jason Tan
- Margarita Forés and
- Ray Adriansyah
were on hand to taste and evaluate each of the semi-finalists’ signature dishes against the “Golden Rules” of the competition. However, after reaching a consensus it was Zih-Yang Chen’s dish showcasing duck breast with sweet potato, adlay, scallions, and other Taiwanese local ingredients that took the judges’ unanimous vote.
Speaking of the decision, chef Bombana commented: “We didn’t choose the most technical or the most difficult dish, but the dish that best represented the region. It was well executed, and its concept really made sense. It was somehow a simple dish, but it was well thought through and well prepared.”
A delighted Zih-Yang Chen commented on his win: “Through this competition, I realised what I still need to work on and will take this opportunity to improve myself. To be the winner of the semi-finals, I am not only very happy, but also wish to bring Taiwanese cuisine to the world. I want to let the whole world see Taiwan’s unique and wonderful culture.”
Zih-yang Chen studied at the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism focusing on Chinese cuisine, before switching to cooking Western cuisine in recent years. His cooking style and choice of ingredients remain heavily influenced by his diverse cooking experiences.
Celebrated chef Umberto Bombana, who earned the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Diner’s Club® Lifetime Achievement Award 2017 will be leading Zih-Yang Chen to the Grand Final as his assigned mentor: “As the mentor of the winner, I will help him refine the dish and quality of the protein, aiming to win the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018,” said Bombana.
The pair will have the coming months to refine Chen’s dish and presentation skills in preparation for the ultimate challenge. In Milan in May 2018, the young chef will face off against 20 of the best young chefs from around the world in front of the world, with one dream: becoming S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018.