Meet the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award 2022-23 regional winners
Ahead of the announcement of the global winner, meet the young chef finalists vying for the prize and see their dishes.
As we countdown to the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2022-23 Grand Finale, taking place in Milan on 4-5 October, we turn our attention to the Competition’s collateral prizes, one of which is the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award.
The prize, voted for by the Competition mentors, is awarded to the chef who best reflects the balance between the past and the future in her or his signature dish whilst expressing the traditional gastronomic heritage of their country of origin.
With the global winner soon to be announced, let’s take a look at the 15 finalists, all of whom claimed the prize in their respective regions.
Aranxa Troestch of the Casa Volcán restaurant in Panama was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the Latin America and Caribbean region. Her signature dish is ‘Ubaldina’.
“Chiriqui's recognised for being the produce pantry of Panama, that’s why my dish's focused on the earth’s bounty with key ingredients of the region. Seren is a corn soup endemic to the region, with sweet and delicate flavours. My grandmother used the whole corn, from the husk to the cob, because she always says that what the land produces must be used in its entirety. Ubaldina is a homage to her, her heritage, and a journey through my childhood.”
Anton Lebersorger, representing Germany, was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the Central Europe region. His signature dish is Bresse chicken, carrot from “Schmiedener Feld”, cabbage kimchi and Thai bearnaise.’
“This dish is my handwriting, it is all the experiences I collected over the years in every kitchen I worked, starting from what my mother cooked for me when I was a child. My Grandma created many dishes with offal, and that was the inspiration for my ragout. I love to make traditional dishes in a new modern way with a touch of Asian style.”
Valerio Borriero from the San Sablon restaurant in Brussels, Belgium was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the West Europe region. His signature dish is ‘Pigeon from “Des Collines”, carbonnade-filled bicolour ravioli, and roasted onion Consommé.’
“This dish represents Italian immigration in Belgium in the 20th century, for working in the coal mines. My family is from this history. The carbonnade is Belgium, the ravioli is Italy, and the vegetable charcoal the reason for this immigration.”
Harry Van Lierop from Roots restaurant in Yorkshire, England was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the UK. His signature dish is ‘Growing up’.
“Two fond memories from growing up was the excessive celeriac my grandma used to produce in her garden, and sailing off the west coast of Scotland and stopping off at some of the finest seafood shacks in the world eating some beautiful scallops.”
Jackson Mehlhopt from the Tussock Hill Vineyard and Cellar Door in Christchurch, New Zealand was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the Pacific. His signature dish is ‘The southern Kiwi deer and its surroundings.’
“When eating wild venison I envisage walking through New Zealand bush and I am reminded of what deer eat in the wild. That is why this dish contains kawakawa, horopito and pikopiko. I am [using] kūmara and a modern interpretation of hāngi.”
Michael Park from Momofuku Ko restaurant in New York City was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the US. His signature dish is ‘The Textures of Korea – uniting North & South.’
“The pairings of squid and date and oyster, tofu and bone expresses a yearning for a unified Korea. My father's family was forced from their home north of the 38th parallel to escape invading communist forces during the war. This dish aims to harmonise the flavours of our ancestral home in the north of Korea with the textures and ingredients of the south in efforts to tell our family's story and chart our migration.”
Ben Miller of Tableau Bar Bistro in Vancouver was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for Canada. His signature dish is ‘Fallon’s mane.’
“Vegan food, through methodology and expertise, belongs on the world stage. Vegetables can be a complete substitute for any animal product. Fallon recognised the harsh realities of raising cattle. She realised cultivating mushrooms was the way of the future. These are generational farmers who shifted their focus for the environment, their courage deserves recognition.”
Niko Tähti of Savoy restaurant in Helsinki, Finland was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the North Europe region. His signature dish is ‘Reindeer on the edge of a misty swamp.’
“I'm from Lapland, where reindeer is a big part of the culture. With my signature dish, I want to show how diverse and wonderful reindeer meat is and combine it with international flavours.”
He-Sen Liu of Ling Long restaurant in Beijing was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for Mainland China. His signature dish is ‘Homemade oyster sauce with Shandong wagyu.’
“I have been training in the culinary arts since I was 14 and that set me on my career path. Chinese cuisine is etched in my memory and I am mesmerised by it. Coupled with foreign elements, it has sparked whimsical surprises in my style.”
Yi Chung Chiu from Xiang Se restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for Asia. His signature dish is ‘The grace of the Tibetan forest.’
“I consider that food with genuine sentiments is the most delicious, but at the same time, the most challenging to make – the cuisine that tells a story. Through my cuisines, I want to share with people the story weaved by my experience of travelling, precious memories and the island nurtured me and raised me – Taiwan.”
Ivan Tartaro from Mano2 restaurant in Zagreb, Croatia was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the South East Europe & Mediterranean region. His signature dish is ‘Grounded roots.’
“The inspiration behind comes from the fall season in Croatia where there is a rich abundance of various mushrooms, wild herbs and vegetables. We have showcased them using techniques seen in Mano2 which have preserved and fully expressed [their] purpose while also using the ingredients as a whole.”
Francesco Sansalone from Cocina Hermanos Torres in Barcelona was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for the Iberian Countries. His signature dish is ‘The world is a country.’
“From an idea of an Italian dish (risotto ai frutti di mare), using Spanish and Mexican products and preparations I'm making a dish that is present in a different way in the three countries (arroz a la tumbada in Mexico and paella de mariscos in Spain).
Aurélien Durand from Ossiano restaurant in Dubai was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for AMESA. His signature dish is ‘Life starts at the end of your comfort zone.’
“A few years ago, I chose to leave my comfort zone in France, in order to travel through Africa and the Middle East, this has made me the chef I am today. My signature dish is built around this idea. I have selected unusual products that will make my guest live, I believe, a unique experience.”
Marco Apicella from Al Peschereccio restaurant in Vedano Olona was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for Italy. His signature dish is ‘Shades of snapper, salt crust, dashi with Amalfi lemon and snapper oil, its terrine; chips with paté.’
“This dish takes me back in time, to when my mum used to prepare it in our family restaurant. At the same time it allows me to look ahead, in search of new paths linked to my ideas of sustainability with little waste.”
Clément Vergeat from Tamara restaurant in Paris was the winner of the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award for France. His signature dish is ‘Climb the darkness’.
“I’d like, through this creation, to express the ambivalence which exists in our industry. Chef, sommelier, etc., all those occupations can give the image of a certain negativity: rude, mentally charged, long hours, fatigue, everyday issues… But once you go over those darks elements, then you discover a world full of colour and freshness, sensitivity, solidarity, passion, creativity. With one very important common duty: bringing happiness to people.”