Food Meets Talent: Advice for young chefs
Clare Smyth, Mark Moriarty, Ana Roš and Micha Tsumura share life lessons.
The fourth edition of S.Pellegrino’s Food Meets Talent series returned this week as part of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants event (3–5 October) in Antwerp, Belgium.
Focused on the next generation of culinary talent, the two-hour event featured a number of Academy chefs alongside other internationally renowned names in the world of gastronomy, such as Heston Blumenthal, who delivered a keynote address.
Mark Moriarty, the 2015 S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Contest winner, took to the stage to share his personal story, describing how the competition has changed his life.
“Six years on, the competition continues to open doors, here I am talking under my chef hero Heston Blumenthal. It has allowed me to accelerate my career and I’m honoured to be part of the family,” he said.
When charting a career as a chef, Moriarty said, “You have to have a plan”.
“My advice is to get in early, decide if you want to do it, and then say ‘this is where I want to be at the end’. [Ask yourself], how am I going to be the best version of myself at the end of the day?”
Senior Academy members Clare Smyth, one of this year’s Sages, Ana Roš, 2018 Sage, and 2015 mentor Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura, also offered advice to the next generation, delivered as a letter to their former selves.
Smyth described the dedication and perseverance needed on a long, hard road, but assured that “the exhaustion will pass and the cuts will heal”.
Reflecting on the last 18 months, she stressed the need to “rethink everything to survive” while also taking time to enjoy the journey. “Time is precious,” she said. “The people and planet around you are precious. Take the time to savour and enjoy it.”
She added: “You will have the opportunity to be a part of global and historical events, but the greatest gift that you will have is the ability to help and mentor others to achieve success.”
Roš — who recently delivered an Academy seminar on how to manage locally focused food chains — spoke about overcoming hardship to realise her dreams at Hiša Franko restaurant and of being “an independent woman who can stand for her decisions”.
In the highly competitive world of rankings, stars, awards and food critics, she said: “You will face many challenges, but always overcome them by trusting your own courage.”
And when faced with inevitable failure, she insisted, “after every rain the sun comes out”.
Tsumura, meanwhile, spoke about the importance of keeping an open mind, and life-long learning. “You will soon realise that everything in life is not a 100-metre sprint, but rather the longest marathon ever with many ups and downs. Be patient, learn from your mistakes,” he said.
The Japanese-Peruvian chef, who has helped bring Nikkei cuisine to the world, also pointed to cultural traditions and family ties as important building blocks in a young chef’s career.
“Before you start thinking of creating your own cuisine, focus on learning the most important basics in a cook’s development process… make sure that you first learn and respect tradition” he said.
During the event, 2015 S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Contest finalist Paolo Griffa prepared canapés for guests alongside French chef Manon Schenck. The menu was influenced by dishes that have so far defined their careers as chefs.
The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 list featured a number of prominent academy members. Head to finedininglovers.com to view the complete list.
The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy congratulates all members who’ve been ranked among this year’s list.