Filipino culinary student Clifford Jeff Unabia will represent the Philippines in this year’s Young Chef Olympiad (YCO) in India.
The 22-year-old aspirant will compete against talented hopefuls from 60 countries in the qualifying rounds of the tilt. The tourney will be held in various cities in India, such as Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Pune.
The YCO, organized by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) in India, annually gathers participants to challenge their creativity, innovation, and speed in the preparation of egg, chicken, and vegetarian dishes. Dessert and pastry categories are likewise judged.
Launched in 2015, the global cooking competition creates a common ground where individuals from all walks of life can exchange traditions, knowledge, and tastes.
The homegrown talent from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management (SHRIM) shared that he is grateful to be the lone representative of the country for the prestigious event.
“Ang laking bagay nito lalo na passion ko ang pagluluto (This is a big thing for me because cooking is my passion),” he stressed.
“Ginagawa ko yung gusto ko at the same time nirerepresent ko yung country ko, may pride eh kapag ginagawa ko yon (Aside from doing it, I also represent my country, there is a sense of pride from it).”
In preparation, Unabia diligently refines his skills through rigorous almost daily trainings at Benilde. He likewise practices his knife cutting method and improves his workflow to enhance his culinary techniques.
The learner, who earned significant experiences in the fine dining restaurant Hapag MNL and French restaurant Metronome, underscored the importance of self-trust before seeking validation from other individuals.
“Everything starts within you,” he beamed. “Kung hindi ka maniniwala sa sarili mo, paano maniniwala yung iba sayo? (If you do not believe in yourself, how will other people trust you?).”
Unabia is under the mentorship of industry expert and Benildean educator Chef Kannan Sreedevi.
Sreedevi highlighted that the tournament is a great avenue for Unabia to master how to work under pressure, as well as interact with a network of professionals.
“We give everything we can and provide him the best opportunity to practice,” he added.
The entries will be judged by a panel of renowned chefs from several Michelin star restaurants.
For more information on 2024 YCO, visit https://ycolympiad.com/.