Skip to content
S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy announces winners of regional final

Cape Town recently saw an intense two days of kitchen-focused creativity as fourteen young chefs from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia region came together on 23 and 24 January 2023 to compete for the regional title and the privilege of proceeding to the grand finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition.

The Jury

A powerful jury with a vast wealth of experience between them had the obviously difficult task of tasting, assessing, and evaluating dishes. The judges were: South African chef Siba Mtongana, best-selling author and star of Siba’s Table on Food Network; Selassie Atadika, UN humanitarian, voted #73 in the Best Chef Awards 2020 and also 2021 recipient of the La Liste New Destination Champion Award for Africa; Tala Bashmi, chef patron of Fusions by Tala at the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain and winner of the first Middle East and North Africa Best Female chef award in 2022.  

Gala Awards Dinner

The winners in four categories were announced at a glittering gala dinner at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, hosted by TV and radio presenter Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp. Of course, chefs, mentors and guests were treated to a dinner cooked by past alumni of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy: a course each by chefs Callan Austin, Vusi Ndlovu, and Paul Prinsloo, paired with wines specially selected by Joseph Dhafana of Mosi Wines. A dessert by pastry chef Vicky-Lynn Gurovich of the Mount Nelson followed, paired beautifully with Nespresso’s Nepal Lamjung coffee as well as a Sicilian dessert wine chosen by Pedro Estrada Belli of Vinotria.

And now to the winners

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award Regional Finalist Winner

Firstly, the winner, decided by the jury, whose dish best combines the three golden rules of technical skills, creativity, and personal belief is Mythrayie Lyer, head chef of Farmlore Restaurant in Bengaluru, India. 

Entitled Barter – Evolution of Indian Cooking Through the Age of Exploration, her dish demonstrates the massive shift in traditional cooking wrought by new ingredients introduced by global trade routes in the times of Vasco da Gama. One element used only pre-trade indigenous ingredients such as the ridge gourd, millet and aubergine, the second part of the dish only new world imports (now staples) such as tomato, chilli and lobster.

Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award

Voted for by foodies in addition to the Fine Dining Lovers community, Kareem Atef, head of culinary research and development for TLT Concepts in Egypt, presented Egyptian Delight – a snapshot of Egypt on a plate

S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility 

Voted for by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, this award goes to a chef who represents socially responsible and sustainable practices in their dish. Zanté Neethling, head chef of the recently opened Nest Food Bar in Knysna, South Africa, fulfilled that with her beautifully presented Strandveld Ecosystem evoking the ocean and edible as well as medicinal fynbos herbs of the South African coastline with smoked mussel flan, pickled cob, buchu, seasonal wild leaves, served with golden sage tea as a palate cleanser.

Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy

And finally, voted for by the local mentors, the Connection in Gastronomy award acknowledges connections across different cultures. It goes to Aurélien Durand, chef de cuisine at Ossiano Restaurant, Atlantis The Palm, in Dubai. His dish, Life Starts at the End of Your Comfort Zone, uses a masterly technique to create delicious and intriguing combinations of unusual sustainable products such as jellyfish and Patagonian toothfish, embellished with sea lettuce panna cotta.

To conclude, the grand finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition will be held in Milan in October 2023.

For more information visit:

Back To Top