For the first time ever, the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 award, which scouts for hot new talent from around the world, was open to chefs in Africa. Cape Town-based chef Angelo Scirocco (25) stood out from over 1 000 competition entries and was selected to represent Africa, in the Africa-Middle East region, at the prestigious competition.
The grand final will be held in Milan, Italy, on June 26.
Scirocco is competing against 19 other chefs from countries including Japan, the US and France. To enter the competition, the young chefs had to submit their signature dishes to a jury of seven renowned international chefs: Gastón Acurio, Yannick Alléno, Massimo Bottura, Margot Janse, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Joan Roca and Grant Achatz.
The San Pellegrino Young Chef competition also partnered up with esteemed fashion magazine Vogue Italia’s online edition to merge food and fashion. Vogue Italia paired chefs with emerging fashion designers, who’ll come up with a creation that is inspired by a signature dish made by the chef they’ve been partnered with. The public can vote online for their favourite chef-designer couple.
Scirocco is paired with Beirut-based fashion designer Mohammed Ashi of Ashi Studio.
‘Milk is Thicker than Water’
Scirocco’s signature dish is a dessert titled, Milk is Thicker than Water, which just as the name states, is made from milk with ingredients such as panna cotta. Speaking to the Mail & Guardian ahead of boarding his flight to Milan, Scirocco explained that his creation represents his personality and background and that it’s important for chefs to stick to their origins – because blood is thicker than water.
“If you stick to your origins and your artistic signature as a chef, you are a lot more powerful than any other trend out there,” Scirocco told the M&G. Scirocco is a sous chef at Chefs Warehouse in Cape Town and comes from a long line of cooks. He spent most of his life in restaurants.
“I’ve been cooking since I was 6 years old. My family has been chefs for five generations, so I was always in a family member’s restaurant.
“My mom tried cooking for me but I’d often offer to make my own meals and she allowed me to do that.”
His life has changed dramatically since he started cooking for a living. He often knocks off from work just after 11pm and because he spends most of his time in the kitchen, he prefers not to cook when he has time on his hands.
“Chefs spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s very hard to cook on our off days but I like to prepare simple South African food when I’ve invited friends over on my day off.”
Scirocco is passionate about sharing South Africa’s diverse cuisine with the rest of world. “We [South Africa] are currently following the global market and I think as South Africans we need to stick to our origins and create things ourselves. We have a lot of international chefs in the country; chefs that are born and raised here; those chefs represent us internationally and should therefore take our cuisine global.”
Scirocco is ready to take on new ventures in the culinary world and believes winning an award such as this one, will be the perfect springboard for him. “If you win this award you will be recognised globally for the rest of your life.”
The public can vote for their favourite creation by the chefs and designers via Vogue.
Voting will be possible until June 25 at 12pm CET.