The first SA Olive Young Chef competition is testimony to the fact that variety is indeed the spice of life and that diversity brings forth innovation.
Besides the South African hopefuls, there were entrants from as far afield as Nigeria and Namibia and the dishes presented covered the sweet to savoury spectrum with a delicious variety of ingredients.
The competition was launched with Hurst Campus in Paarl as the first chef school in South Africa to participate. Owned by chef Rebecca Hurst, this school embodies the supportive spirit that is vital when developing young minds and creating an appetite for innovation.
Senior and junior category winners were selected through a process that included a panel of experts, online voting and in-action scoring of the actual cooking process of each candidate. The criteria were to come up with uniquely olive and olive oil inspired dishes and to apply academic and practical learning to the cooking process.
The competition was fierce and the final scores so close that each of the young chefs can tap themselves on the shoulder for a job well done. In some cases there was less than a point separating the first and second places. They are all stars that we can look forward to seeing dish up magic in the years to come.
The senior category winner is Tanner Leigh with his olive and mushroom tortellini, which was rounded off with a tomato juice emulsion, pickled olives, spinach puree, ginger hair and basil oil.
The junior category winner is Renate van Reenen with her toasted sponge cake served with honey and olive oil ice cream.
Although the South African olive industry is small when compared to global olive production, they pack a mighty punch in terms of quality, farming practises and innovation. Sponsoring a competition where young talent is exposed and nurtured is part of a strategy to educate consumers and making locally produced olive oil the go-to product when cooking and dining.
View all of the dishes here.
View press release here.