Singapore-based chef Kirk Westaway has been named the South East Asian regional winner today in the semi-finals of the inaugural S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition, a global search for the best young chef in the world under 30 years old.
The sous chef at modern French restaurant Jaan in Swissotel The Stamford beat 9 other emerging chefs from countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and India in a cook-off at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy yesterday.
He said: "This definitely came as a surprise to me, but a great one. The competition was strong and I was up against some amazing talent. The S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition has given me the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the region's most esteemed names in fine cuisine and the experience invaluable."
The 29-year-old Briton has had more than 10 years of culinary experience in top restaurants in London and Brazil before joining Jaan three years ago.
He presented his signature dish, Forest Pigeon, which featured uncommon components such as barley risotto and Chinese artichoke. The dish caught the attention of the judges, who evaluated contestants based on ingredient selection, cooking skills, presentation and inspiration behind their dishes.
The semi-finalists presented their dishes to a panel of chefs comprising Taiwanese Andre Chiang, Briton Ryan Clift and Indian Gaggan Anand.
The competition is jointly organised by online food magazine Fine Dining Lovers and Italian beverage brands Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino. Both brands are also known for sponsoring the renowned World's 50 Best Restaurants list, published annually by British food magazine Restaurant.
Westaway will compete against 19 other finalists in the finals of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition will be held in Milan, Italy, during the Expo Milano 2015 in June. Each chef will also be mentored by a renowned culinary artist in the lead-up to the finals.
Finalists will collaborate with young fashion designers, picked by fashion magazine Vogue Italia, to present their signature dish with a fashion interpretation.
The S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 and the Best Couple Chef/Designer 2015 will then be awarded by an international jury there.