Escoffier Young Talent Competition at the ACAC

Today, on a hot Sunday in the middle of the busy, buzzling capital Phnom Penh, the candidates for the 3rd Disciples Escoffier Cambodia Young Chef Competition 2022, were officially competing in a friendly atmosphere at the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia.

The 4 chef contestants, Nhem Samon from the Palace Gate Hotel, Mao Vanna from Pepe Bistro, Nuon Rithysak from Il Forno and Sek Ratana from Topaz, all under the age of 25, with a maximum of 5 years’ professional experience in hotel or restaurant kitchens, were tasked at cooking and plating a classic dish, originally created by August Escoffier, to whom the Escoffier association pays homage. Within the 3 hours of competition, the young Khmer chefs battled to prepare a carré of lamb, served with boulangère potatoes and peas tarte and to finally display their creations to the jury, presided by Chef Bruno Cardone.

The competition provides the perfect opportunity for talented young chefs to showcase their culinary creativity and flexibility. The main objective of the competition is to highlight the key roles young chefs play within the hospitality industry as they take center stage in the modernization of culinary arts. Because indeed, our young chefs are the future of this industry.

Through this competition, Disciples Escoffier Cambodia aims to promote and develop traditional methods and techniques for preparing and cooking culinary masterpieces as well as blending modern culinary practices that are shaping the future of culinary arts.

ACAC Dean and President of the Disciples Escoffier Cambodia Delegation, Bruno Cardone, explained that training and practicing was key to “survive” this competition.

“The training with the mentor helps the competitors to be focused during the challenge and pay attention to the time management, the taste, and the presentation of the dish. The young chefs are required to adapt the tips and tricks provided by the mentors and use them to accomplish the given tasks. With enough practice and by knowing well the dish, the competitor’s stress level will automatically be at t lower level and the main focus on the flavors and originality of the dish”.

After 3 hours of time, at 11:30 am sharp, the cooking session came to an end and the young competitors displayed their plates to the jury, represented by a team of 8 experienced industry professionals and experts. The main criteria for the winner evaluation were the mise-en-place, the correct preparation and creativity, professional serving methods and presentation and the taste and textures of each dish.

Following the careful consideration and evaluation by the judges, the event culminated in an award ceremony in which the winner of the competition was announced:

  • 1st Place                     Mao Vanna – Pepe Bistro

Disciples Escoffier International Certificate and Medal, Disciples Escoffier Book of Recipes, Participation in the Disciples Escoffier Competition in Hong Kong.

  • 2nd Place                   Nhem Samon- Palace Gate Hotel

Disciples Escoffier International Certificate and Medal, Disciples Escoffier Book of Recipes

  • 3rd Place                    Sek Ratana – Topaz

Disciples Escoffier International Certificate and Medal, Disciples Escoffier Book of Recipes

The winner of the competition, Mao Vanna, impressed the jury through his organizational skills, cleanliness and the finesse of his dish. He will be sent to represent Cambodia at the Asia-Pacific Regional Young Talents Competition in Hong Kong in September 2022 and have an opportunity to compete in the world finals.

Exhausted but full of excitement he said:

“It still feels a little surreal right now. I’ve practised a lot and of course, the main goal of every competition is to win, but I personally came here for the experience. Now, that I’ve got this unique opportunity to participate in the international competition in Hong Kong and represent my country, culture and cuisine, I have to challenge myself daily and make the very best possible out of it!”

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