The glamorous semi-final competition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef - for the best young chef in the world – took place last week in the attractive premises of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy.
The competition brought together young promising chefs from the regions of Italy and Southeast Europe, as well as top chefs – the young chefs’ mentors and jury, including the Esplanade’s Executive Chef Ana Grgić.
Sous Chef Alessandro Bergamo of the Cracco Restaurant in Milan won the regional semi-final competition in Milan and will represent the region at the grand finale in May 2020.
The Esplanade's award-winning Executive Chef, the charming Ana Grgić, was invited to use her cooking experience and exquisite taste to evaluate the best young chefs at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef regional semi-finals, held in Milan last week. ‘I was pleased to accept S. Pellegrino's invitation to represent Croatia as one of the jury members at this prestigious event. It was interesting to assume this role once again, to watch young chefs investing their best efforts and to taste their creations. There were interesting combinations of ingredients and interpretations of dishes, some of them very intriguing, but there were also some not so tasty. This competition is a great springboard for young talented chefs and a great platform for making new acquaintances in the culinary world. Personally, I had a great time, enjoyed the gala dinner, and met many interesting chefs with whom I may even establish business collaboration,’ said Ana Grgić upon her return to Zagreb.
After one day of showcasing the culinary skills of several of Italy's and Southeast Europe's most talented young chefs, Alessandro Bergamo, born in 1989, Sous Chef at the Cracco restaurant in Milan, was the winner of the regional semi-final competition S.Pellegrino Young Chef, and will participate in the grand finals, to be held in May 2020. The jury members who evaluated the young chefs were as follows: Pino Cuttaia (La Madia - Licata, Italy, two Michelin stars), Matias Perdomo (Contraste - Milan, Italy, one Michelin star), Antonia Klugmann (Argine a Vencò - Dolegna del Collio, Italy, one Michelin star), Marianna Vitale (Sud - Quarto, Italy, one Michelin star), Ana Grgić (Zinfandel's - Zagreb, Croatia), Oana Coantă (Bistro de l'Arte - Brasov, Romania), and Janez Bratovž (JB Restaurant - Ljubljana, Slovenia). The dishes were judged according to key criteria: technical skills, creativity, and a personal belief in the transformative power of gastronomy as an opportunity for positive change within society.
Among the competitors was young Croatian chef Deni Srdoč, of the Draga di Lovrana restaurant, with his mentor Tvrtko Šakota from Zagreb's Nava restaurant, whose dish Ana marked as delicious.
Besides the main award, other presented awards were the Fine Dining Lovers Food For Thoughts Award (voted for by the fine dining online community), the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility (voted for by Food Made Good), and the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy (voted for by the young chefs’ mentors). All prizewinners enter the grand final competition.
In addition, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef global project aims to support the future of gastronomy by discovering, developing, and promoting new generations of culinary talents. The goal is to help young chefs from around the world gain access to the global culinary community, and encourage them to present their own interpretation of the transformative power of gastronomy with their technical skills and creativity. This year, as many as 2,400 young chefs from around the world applied, among which 135 candidates were selected for the best young chef from 12 regions representing 50 countries. Worth adding is that the percentage of women among the candidates increased by more than 10%, something the organisers particularly highlighted and considered a good sign.
About Executive Chef Ana Grgić
This experienced and charming chef has been running the Zinfandel's restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Croatia, as well as the charming French restaurant Le Bistro and Esplanade Catering, for more than seven years. Ana pursues the tradition of the Esplanade Hotel’s cuisine while keeping up with world-class culinary trends. Her creative and imaginative menus have impressed many guests and celebrities in the past years, as well as members of royal families. Ana has received a number of accolades for her personality, excellence, and style of cooking. Prestigious publications have nominated her for Woman of the Year and Person of the Year, and the renowned Guida Gallo guide included her risotto among the 101 best risottos in the world in 2013 and 2016. Anna's style of preparing dishes and her personality led her to participate in the celebrity culinary television show Celebrity MasterChef as a jury member. In addition, Ana proudly bears the title of ambassador for the Fish Forward Project in Croatia within the WWF initiative (World Wildlife Fund), setting an example for raising consumer awareness of the global environmental and social consequences of the consumption of fishery products. The Gault & Millaut guide awarded Ana the title of Great Chef of Tomorrow, specially emphasising her respect for the seasonality and quality of ingredients, as well as consistent and carefully refined dishes. Her gastronomic virtuosity and creativity have been recognised by the gourmet association Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, which awarded Ana with the prestigious title of Chef Rôtisseur. At the glamorous selection organised in 2019 by Good Restaurants, the Zinfandel's restaurant, led by Ana, was named the best high-class hotel restaurant in Croatia. It also received numerous awards in recent years, such as the World Luxury Restaurant Awards, LTG Awards, and others.
About S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna
S.Pellegrino, Acqua Panna and Sanpellegrino Sparkling Fruit Beverages are recognised brands by Sanpellegrino S.p.A., seated in Milan, Italy. Distributed in more than 130 countries through subsidiaries and distributors on all five continents, these products represent excellence in quality based on their origin, perfectly interpreting Italian style worldwide as a synthesis of pleasure, health, and well-being. Founded in 1899, the Sanpellegrino S.p.A. group is a leading company in the Italian beverage sector, offering mineral waters, soft drinks, iced teas, and other drinks. As one of Italy's largest producers of mineral water, this group has always been committed to promoting this, for the planet primary good, and has been working responsibly and passionately toward preserving the secure future of this resource. S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna are two historical Italian classics whose success lies in their attractive values and elegantly balanced taste. These names are highly regarded around the world, both in high-end restaurants and in homes. They celebrate high quality food and lifestyles every day, making each meal a special experience.
S.Pellegrino is a vibrant mineral water with long-lasting bubbles. A creamy feeling on the palate with a slightly salty taste and perfectly balanced acidity refreshes and quenches thirst. It is an ideal beverage for an aromatic meal, balancing full-bodied wines, or simply enjoying the bubbles.
The velvety flavour of Acqua Panna comes from Tuscany. It all began in 1564 at the Panna Villa, a summer getaway of the Medici family, which lies by a well of water of an incredibly smooth taste that is found nowhere else, and was transported daily 25 kilometres to Florence. Acqua Panna flows through the beautiful hills of sun-bathed Tuscany. Each droplet naturally filters on its 14-year journey to the well, acquiring a distinct mineral balance.
Esplanade Hotel contact:
Sanda Sokol, PR & Marketing Manager
Andrea Ožegović, PR & Marketing Coordinator
Representative Office for Croatia - Pago Croatia: Danijel Šarušić, Brand Manager
Pago Croatia d.o.o., Ulica grada Vukovara 284, 10 000 Zagreb