Srijaenthi Natraj from theInternational Centre for Culinary Arts - ICCA Dubai, representing the UAE,won Silver in the 7th International Young Chef Olympiad (YCO). Apart from winning the silver, she alsobagged the title for Best Chicken Dish, with her moderninterpretation of a classicEmaratifavourite.
Organised by the International Hospitality Council (IHC), London,in association with the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), YCO 2021 turned out to be the world'sbiggest virtual culinary battle spanningacross 6 continents, 24 time zones andover8 days,with participants from 100 countries fighting tooth and nail to win the coveted title.
The competition saw two main rounds, where, in the first round; contestants were divided into virtual breakout rooms based on their time zones and were given two-and-a-half hours to prepare three dishesin highly monitored conditions.
Srijaenthi chose to do'Chicken Saluna' a modern interpretation of the traditional Emirati favouritefor Mains,theMiddle Eastern vegetarian'BabaGanoush'with a twistas an Appetiser, along withthe all-time classic ChocolateEclairs'for Dessert.
Following the first round, Srijaenthi wasshortlistedamongstthe top 10 participants who moved into theGrandFinale, where she prepared two products;a perfectly clear and elegantly presented "Chicken Consomme"and'St Honore Gateau',on-camerawhichwon theSilverMedal.
For theLivebroadcast, astate of the art six-camerasetupusing Nikon Z6 in 4K HD,coveringthe front, all sides, top-down, together with a Hand-Held as well, for up-close shots, helped cover all possible angles in great detail to help replicate an as seen in real-life experience, was thoughtfully put into place by Team ICCA - Media.
As the competition was held and judged online, each country had aCountryJudgefor a fair and accurateevaluation oftaste, temperature, flavours, consistency, and standards prescribed, all criticalaspectsin culinary whichcouldn'tbe experiencedonline.
For the UAE, it wasnone other thanChef Uwe Micheel, Vice President WorldChefs,President,Emirates Culinary Guild,appointedas theCountryJudge, withChef Vrushali Jadhav, Chef Instructor, ICCA Dubai as theTeam Mentor,who helped pave wayforthis glorious achievement.
Srijaenthi,is adoubleDiplomagraduate in Cookery andBaking Patisserie from the International Centre for Culinary Arts, (ICCA) Dubai, a City Guilds, London Approved Centre recognized by KHDA,and she also holds aBachelor's in Hot Kitchen and Hospitality Management from the Culinary Institute of America, Singapore.
"I am overjoyed with the results and really glad to be able to represent the UAE in this competitionwithan elevated version of dishes that are staples of this region. And I am very much gratefultomy mentor, Chef Vrushali Jadhav for being instrumental in fine-tuning my recipes and putting in thelonghours of training which prepared me for a competition of this scale.", says Srijaenthi.
This united platform of young chefs is the perfect example of bonding, friendship and learning together. More than a competition, YCO is now a global youth platform and launchpad for the culinary superstars of tomorrow.