BeanScene Magazine


John Rivera of Restaurant Amaru wins San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018

From the September 2017 issue.

Following a day of performances by 10 of the best Australian, New Zealand and Pacific region’s most talented rising chefs, John Rivera of Restaurant Amaru in Melbourne has been announced the winner of the nation’s S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 local competition.

Australia Pacific’s regional competition took place on September 11 at Tonic in Crown Promenade. A distinguished jury of chefs, including Andrew McConnell, Paul Carmichael, Scott Pickett, Christine Manfield and Jacques Reymond tasted and evaluated each of the semi-finalists who prepared signature dishes based on their adherence to the competition’s five golden rules: ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and message.

“We were unified in our decision. The standard has risen from previous years. John was very prepared, focused, and meticulous in his approach. His dish showed a depth of flavour and a fully rounded approach, he articulated the cultural heritage of his dish in a precise and warm manner. Every element of the dish was perfect,” the judges commented.

John’s signature dish is a reinterpretation the traditional hot and sour Filipino soup, with a flavour profile complemented with smoked tamarind and created with incredible Australian produce. The Hapuka was steamed and served with taro that had been cooked in coconut cream and turned into a silky puree. The calamansi (lime leaf) oil brought the dish to life.

The local semi-finalists competing for a chance to participate in the Grand Finale were hand-selected by ALMA, the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian cuisine.

“This competition means a lot for young chefs and Filipinos in my generation who are looking for their heritage and ways to show it in their food. We need to go out there and fly our flag – the world is ready for us. There are many South East Asian nations that have recognition, and the Philippines is the final frontier. This opportunity wouldn’t have come to me in the Philippines. That is the great thing about Australia, [it has] given us all the platform,” John says.

“Australia is the place to eat right now, and the place to work, especially for young chefs. As Jacques Reymond said, 'we are finding our identity and it is possible for our generation to shape our identity: Australia is the platform for that.''”

John will now compete in the global finals round along with 21 other young chefs, taking place in June 2018 in Milan, Italy.

Each finalist will be assigned a mentor chef from their regional jury. At the awards night it was announced that Scott Pickett of Esp by Scott Pickett in Melbourne will be John's mentor leading up to the Grand Finale, and provide him with guidance on how to improve his signature dishes.

For more information, visit www.sanpellegrino.com

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