The search for South Africa’s ‘Chefs who Share – Young Chef’ 2016 now down to seven

The battle of the canapés is over. The search for the second ‘Chefs who Share – Young Chef Award’ has now been narrowed down to seven.

Here’s a list of the promising young chefs

  1. Conrad van den Heever, Senior Sous Chef from Greenhouse-Cellars Hohenort;
  2. Anand Bhana, Junior Sous Chef from Hartford House;
  3. Blaine Robert Coetzer, Senior Chef de Partie at Leeu Estate;
  4. David Graham–Parker, Junior Chef de Partie at Level Four;
  5. Lee-andra Govender, Junior Sous Pastry Chef at Roots;
  6. Elize Benson, Senior Chef de Partie at Roots; and
  7. Anthonie James van Zyl, Commis Chef at Tokara,’s.

Creative canapé creations have earned them a place amongst the official seven finalists for ‘Chefs who Share – Young Chef Award’ 2016.

Conrad van den Heever
Conrad van den Heever

77 of the country’s top restaurants nominated their culinary talents between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. It was from all these entries that these seven young talents emerged. They had to submit an outstanding canapé creation to win over an esteemed panel of industry professionals.

The panel of judges

  • Chef and media personality Sue-Ann Allen;
  • Chef Jason Whitehead;
  • Silwood Kitchen Vice-Principal Carianne Wilkinson;
  • Food 24 editor Tessa Purdon;
  • Chef Tracey Younghusband;
  • ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving’ co-founder Florian Gast and
  • South African Young Chef Award Ambassador and TV chef Lentswe Bhengu
Lee-andra Govender
Lee-andra Govender

These judges had the difficult task to select the seven finalists.

Apart from having their canapé creations served to some very discerning palates, the Top 7 will work alongside 14 of their national and international culinary heroes.

This will be when South Africa’s biggest collaborative art and culinary event, ‘Chefs who Share – The ART of Giving’ 2016, culminates in a Grand Gala on 24 September in Johannesburg.

The criteria for becoming the winner

Elize Benson
Elize Benson

While the canapé creation is the ticket to experience the cooking at the event in Johannesburg, the criteria for becoming the winner are “soft” skills. These include team spirit, engagement, creativity and the overall personality. Most of all, the announcement of the winner will be at the evening of the Gala. This is after being selected by Swiss International Air Lines Ambassador and Chef Reto Mathis and Lentswe Bhengu, Ambassador of ‘Chefs who Share – Young Chef Award’.

“I felt an Award like this is a necessity, because it has the potential to change the lives of promising young chefs through their passion – cooking.” Says Bhengu, who was instrumental in initiating this Award last year,

David Graham-Parker
David Graham-Parker

He continues, “The Award is a great opportunity for every young chef who wants to make a name for him- or herself in the industry. Also, he aim of the Young Chef Award is to find talented young people. Furthermore, the aim is to give them opportunities to shine, and inspire them as they develop as a Chefs.”

Benghu’s fellow judge, Chef Jason Whitehead, continues, “The criteria for selecting the top seven Young Chef finalists are creativity, uniqueness, taste, and visual impression of a canapé the contestants need to create. Serving these creations to the high profile guests of the gala is a nerve wrecking, but unforgettable experience for these youngsters”.

A word form last years winner

Anand Bhana
Anand Bhana

The first ever ‘Chefs who Share – Young Chef Award’ winner, Jamie-Lee Saunders won a European culinary experience last year. As part of this, she worked in the kitchen of Michelin-star restaurant Storstad in Regensburg. She also visited Paris and experienced the Maisons of Veuve Clicquot in Reims and Moët & Chandon in Épernay.

Saunders had convinced the judges with her creative pink peppercorn macaron filled with a duck liver paté and candied apples. She says, “This culinary experience was undoubtedly an adventure of a lifetime. I loved every moment and will never forget this. Therefore, I will forever be grateful and I know it will influence my career – or better, it has influenced my career already.”

Anthonie James van Zyl
Anthonie James van Zyl

One of this year’s finalists, Blaine Robert Coetzer, Senior Chef de Partie at Leeu Estate, earned his place as a finalist with a salmon-creation entitled ‘When the ocean meets the earth.’

Coetzer, who grew up in the farm areas of the Midlands of Kwazulu-Natal, says he answered his restaurant’s call-to-entry for a chance to change his life. “Winning the Award would open so many doors for me. I have always just been in the background. This award could change that. It might be a dream, come true.”

What the winner expects

Blaine Robert Coetzer
Blaine Robert Coetzer

The ‘Chefs who Share – Young Chef Award’ 2016 winner will receive substantial local recognition. They will be flown to Europe by associate airline sponsor Swiss International Air Lines to work in a Michelin-star restaurant. In addition, they’ll also visit the headquarters of Moët & Chandon in Épernay, France, to experience the culinary and oenological highlights of Champagne.

Arguably, all seven finalists are winners, as they get to work alongside kitchen heroes like Margot Janse, Marthinus Ferreira, Chris Erasmus and Dirk Gieselmann, to name only a few out of the twelve, for two days.

The South African top chefs joined by some international colleagues, including Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatia coming from London and Vincent Rodier from LUX* Resort & Hotels in Mauritius and, for a second time, Chef Reto Mathis from Switzerland.

An auction of extra-ordinary pieces of art happens at the gala.This is the finale of a series of feel-good events held from 19 -24 September, this year for the first time in Johannesburg. In conclusion, to date, the series of events have raised R6,1 million in aid of youth development in South Africa.

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