SPYCA Grand Jury

Bright Future for Global Gastronomy

The Grand Jury shares personal reflections and competition insights.

Amid the excitement of the Grand Finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2019-21, we sat down with members of the Grand Jury — celebrated chefs Enrico Bartolini, Manu Buffara, Andreas Caminada, Gavin Kaysen and Clare Smyth — to understand how the world of gastronomy is changing, the advice they would give to their younger selves, and their biggest takeaways following this year’s competition.


While fellow Jury member Pim Techamuanvivit was unable to travel to Milan for the event, Mauro Colagreco had to temporarily step away from the action due to unforeseen circumstances. Nevertheless, chef Techamuanvivit shared an encouraging message to all finalists via video, and chef Colagreco imparted a few words of wisdom during the Award Ceremony. 


As a long-time member of the Academy, Colagreco said he was hugely impressed by the high level of this year’s competition.


“It’s very nice to see how the younger generation is starting to push us, especially after such a difficult period during the pandemic,” he said. “I’m really impressed [by their passion] and their concern about sustainability.”


Buffara and Bartolini were equally impressed by the personal stories and cultural messages conveyed by the finalists.


“[These young chefs] believe in sustainability, biodiversity and diversity in the kitchen — that is the key to the future,” Buffara said. “They are super proud of their countries and cities… the diversity of people is incredible.”


Reflecting on his past, Bartolini’s advice for young chefs is to trust in themselves and “don’t be afraid to make mistakes... that’s an opportunity to do better on the next occasion”.


This is backed by Caminada’s philosophy that hard work, humility and determination reap awards — both in the kitchen and in the business of hospitality.


“Have a dream and go step-by-step. Don’t try to reach the top immediately,” he advised.


On the competition, he added, “It’s great to see how young chefs express identity and ideas in a dish… the future is very talented and motivated, and I think it’s great for our industry.”


Kaysen, meanwhile, said he will take the “inspiration, passion and creativity” that he experienced during the competition back home to his teams in the US.


Driven by the ability to “make people happy through food”, Kaysen believes every chef has the power to take care of people. “You get to fill people’s buckets on a daily basis through hospitality, food, creativity, emotion and passion. Giving that [to others] ultimately makes you stronger and better,” he said.


Similarly, Smyth said she’s always been driven by a love of food, and now relishes in watching her younger team members succeed. “I get more pleasure out of seeing them progress than anything else,” she said.


While acknowledging that young chefs today face unique challenges, she believes their futures are bright.


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