Young chefs from all around the world participated in the first ever International Young Chef Olympiad, which was inaugurated in Kolkata Jan. 29.

Ashwin Nicholos Oon from Malaysia bagged the International Young Chef Olympiad winner’s trophy and took home a cash prize of $10,000, along with a gold medal.

The first runner-up was Marcin from Spain and second runner-up was Tajinder from the UK.

Teams from participating countries — including India, the U.S., UK, Spain, France, Switzerland, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan — marched in an Olympic-style opening ceremony carrying the flags of their respective countries.

Dhriti, a third-year student of the International Institute of Hotel Management, Jaipur, represented team India.

The trophy was unveiled by Dr. Suborno Bose, founder of the Young Chef Olympiad Initiative, chairman of the organizing committee and chief mentor of IIHM.

The Olympiad flag made its grand entry carried by four successful women of India — Madhumita Mohanta, executive chef at The Lalit Great Eastern, Kolkata; Siddhika Ghosh, owner of The Wise Owl restaurant in Kolkata; chef Payal, a “MasterChef” finalist from Kolkata; and chef Preeti Singh.

Garima Poddar, winner of the Young Chef India Schools 2014 contest held in London, carried the Olympiad torch and joined the other contestants onstage to light its flames, under the supervision of IIHM culinary director and chef Sanjay Kak. This was followed by a cake-cutting ceremony featuring the torch as the centerpiece.

The contest kicked off with an elimination round Jan. 30, in which 15 contestants, including Dhriti from India and Ashwin from Malaysia, competed to secure a position in the top eight.

They had to cook with the given ingredients within a specified time. Apart from other factors, they were marked on creativity, hygiene, taste and optimum utilization of the ingredients.

The team of judges was headed by professor David Foskett of the London School of Hospitality and Tourism, University of West London, UK; Indian celebrity chef Kunal Kapur of “MasterChef India” fame; noted food critic, writer and chef Karen Anand; celebrity Italian “MasterChef” Roberto Boggio; and chef Shaun Kenworthy.

The top eight countries that made it to the grand final were Spain, Malaysia, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, Kenya, France and India.

In the grand final, the judges asked the contestants to make only vegetarian dishes.

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