Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award

Food that Tells a Story

Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award finalists share their beliefs on a plate.

As excitement continues to build ahead of the Grand Finale of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2019-21 (28-30 October), the 12 talented young chefs currently in the running for the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award share the personal stories behind their signature dish.


From all corners of the globe, this year’s finalists have harnessed their culinary skills to forge cross-cultural understanding with an array of dishes that not only express their personal beliefs, but reflect some of the biggest challenges in the world today.

Global issues like environmental sustainability, representation and political conflict are expressed through 12 incredible dishes.


The Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award is the only award open to public voting — and there’s still time to cast your vote before the winner is announced at the Grand Finale in Milan, Italy.

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2019-21: Finalists for the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award


Egor Makarov from Primebeef Academy in Moscow, Russia is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Euro Asia region.


With his signature dish Russian Seafood, Makarov pays homage to his heritage and Russian cuisine, highlighting local produce in new and creative ways.


“I draw inspiration from my childhood memories: the taste of Kamchatka shrimp and Omul, which surpassed every expectation; exceptionally aromatic Black Sea mussels; and the unforgettable flavour of cod liver. The hardest part was to combine seafood with root vegetables, which have always been widely used in Russia.”


Krzysztof Konieczny from Sztuczka Bistro in Sopot, Poland is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Central Europe region.


In his innovative dish Jerusalem Artichoke "Fish", Konieczny prepares vegetables using techniques traditionally reserved for meat.

“As a former hockey player, I was taught discipline and to strive for perfection. I've since transferred my sporting experience to the kitchen, where each dish is refined in every detail. I focus on unlikely combinations and play with taste… in my kitchen, I like to give a new dimension to products that are forgotten or rarely used.”


Ingrid Gonçalves from Mono in Hong Kong is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Greater China region. Her signature dish is Between the Flavours.

Gonçalves gives meaning to her ribeye steak dish by representing the evolution of humanity (and gastronomy) with fire and smoke.

“My dish represents the multicultural gastronomy that exists in Asia. It also represents the union of my land with the culture of Asia. My dish expresses different cultures and what can be created using fresh, colourful and organic ingredients… it was created with the intention to represent the ancient history of Hong Kong, its nature and ancestors.”


Nicolas Fagundes Galindo from Chapter One Restaurant in Dublin, Ireland is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the UK & North Europe region.

Fagundes Galindo blended his Brazilian origins with his Irish experiences to create his signature dish Flavours and Textures of Palm and Ox Tongue.

“This dish signifies that, with the right intention to create a more dynamic and sustainable environment, we can understand and appreciate how other cultures work. I want to bring multiple cultures together on a single plate while expressing my roots and the knowledge and technique I’ve acquired during my career abroad.”


Marcus Gericke from Le coin Francais in Johannesburg, South Africa is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Africa & Middle East region.

Gericke presents a powerful tribute to his father, also a chef, with his dish Remembrance (Quail Consommé).


“My father taught me how to respect ingredients, the land and, most of all, the people around me. This dish is not only a way of remembering him, but continuing our dream for this beautiful Rainbow Nation.”


Marvin Palomo from 7 Enoteca in Ontario, Canada is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the North America region. His signature dish is Dungeness Crab Chawanmushi.

Palomo combines flavours that resonate with his upbringing, while highlighting local ingredients.

“As a Filipino immigrant growing up in the urban melting pot of Toronto, this dish reflects who I am as a cook. It combines early childhood food inspirations from my family with the technique and skills I've learned from my most important chef mentors.”


Eliodoro Xicúm Cobá from La Villa in Mexico is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Latin America region. His signature dish is Nohoch Ná (Tamal De Mollejas Con Cocidos En Ceniza).

The young chef’s formative experiences working in Mayan communities shaped the idea for his signature dish, which represents the Yucatecan Mayan people.


“I believe we need to re-evaluate our ingredients and look for techniques and flavours that have become ‘common’ — this is where our creativity as chefs really comes to light. My dish is a tribute to corn, but also to ingredients that are often undervalued. It is a reminder that any ingredient is worthy of any table.”


Antonio Romano from Castello di Fighine in Siena, Italy is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Italy & South East Europe region.


Romano looked to ancient Rome for his inspiration behind his signature dish Roma Locuta. “I investigated how pigeon, dates and spices were used and recreated these elements in my own way… good food, imbued with memories. With this dish, I would like to display the harmony I have when I cook.”


Andrea Ravasio from Zumaque in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Iberian & Mediterranean region.


With his dish El Domingo del Campesino, Ravasio hopes to bring the flavours of the Canary Islands “to the people, to the world and to the future”.  


“I want to celebrate the importance of the local produce, like potato and mojo verde, and show that it is possible to elevate simple ingredients to fine dining.”


Karan Upmanyu from Wood Street Sauce Co. in Bangalore, India is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Asia region.


Through his signature dish Shades of the Desert, Upmanyu hopes to showcase India’s vibrant and diverse food culture to the world.


“My dish uses native ingredients foraged from the arid desert of Rajasthan, taking inspiration from communities and cuisines that are integral parts of the state’s culinary heritage. This dish is a celebration of a food culture that, despite a harsh geographical context, has allowed people to thrive for centuries.”



Abhijit Dey from So Auckland hotel in Auckland, New Zealand is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the Pacific region.

Dey’s signature dish, Horopito cured Wild Venison cooked over Kanuka Wood, Karamu Berries and Feijoa Cream with Celeriac and Nelson Valley Saffron Reduction, highlights local flora and fauna, while also reflecting his Indian roots.


“A very important component of my dish is a locally-sourced saffron reduction from Nelson, which is blended with the saffron from Kashmir. The use of native berries and flowers represents the sustainable plant cultures that grow organically across New Zealand… this is also emblematic of my childhood as I grew up next to the Sundarbans, a sprawling mangrove forest.”



Evens López, from The Clove Club in London, England (previously from Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse à l'Hôtel de Paris, Monte Carlo) is the winner of the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for the North West Europe region. His signature dish is Warm Blue Lobster, Wheat Bread with Sea Flavours and Stuffed Artichoke.


Lopez ensured his dish was “almost zero-waste” to convey an important sustainability message.


“We must respect seasonal ingredients and avoid the abuse of consumption. My dish uses as much of the product as possible while preserving flavour, elegance and finesse… I would like to raise awareness about the importance of our planet’s natural resources.”

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