Wherever you find fine food, you find S.Pellegrino. For the last 16 years the name of S.Pellegrino has been synonymous with the internationally recognised restaurant awards, World’s 50 Best, and they have taken their dedication to the world of gastronomy one step further with the S.Pellegrino Young Chef awards, which recently celebrated its third edition.
Every year the attention of the entire food world is focused on the World’s 50 Best awards to see which of the gastronomic legends of the fine-dining scene will achieve the ultimate recognition of being crowned first in the world. South Africa’s The Test Kitchen had the honour of taking the coveted 50th spot on the 2018 list at the prestigious ceremony on 19 June in Bilbao, Spain. “It’s amazing to be recognised as a global contender on the restaurant scene,” says the restaurant’s executive chef Luke Dale-Roberts, “particularly because we weren’t on it last year and now we’re back. What is so great is that the World’s 50 Best really is a global award with restaurants from every corner of the world.”
However sparkling and glamorous, the World’s 50 Best is about more than the awards ceremony. The five-day programme presents numerous opportunities for food innovation and dissemination of ideas, such as the 50 Best Talks, a culinary thought leadership conference that explores global food developments and restaurant trends. Always at the forefront of initiatives to stimulate progress in the world of gastronomy, S.Pellegrino recently also supported the prestigious symposium ‘Transforming Society Through Gastronomy’ in Modena, exploring the impactful role that the food industry can play in society, from nutrition to economic development.
With the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, the brand takes a pro-active interest in developing talented young chefs from all over the globe in a demanding 18-month selection process. The 21 finalists work with mentors from the programme to hone their signature dishes until they compete in the final contest in Milan judged by a grand jury of starred chefs. South Africa’s Vusumuzi Ndlovu, of the pop up at The Marabi Jazz Club, was named one of the Top 7 young chefs in the grand finale in May this year. “Everyone knows and respects S.Pellegrino,” he says, “so when you’re quoted by them as one of the best young chefs in the world it’s like, wow, everyone listens. It helps you to open up to a different clientele.” He also appreciates his exposure through the programme to the global fine-dining scene. “They’ve got access to so many restaurants and chefs all over the world. They attract exciting people, so you can link with great chefs in, say, Japan or in Paris.”
For South Africa the support and influence of a truly global brand like S.Pellegrino makes a real difference to the local fine-dining scene, bringing it to the notice of the international food community, which might not otherwise travel here. “We are an isolated country at the bottom tip of the world,” says Dale-Roberts. “There are definitely more restaurants in South Africa that could contend on this scale, but geographically it’s more difficult.”
The S.Pellegrino Young Chef benefits the local fine-dining scene by stimulating all the chefs taking part through international encounter and exchange of ideas, as well as the ongoing relationship and support that is so much appreciated by the finalists. “What’s nice about S.Pellegrino, they don’t make themselves unreachable. If I have an idea I can email and they will back that up 100%,” says Ndlovu.
S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna play a part in South Africa’s local awards scene too, sponsoring the Eat Out Chef of the Year. It was awarded to chef Liam Tomlin in 2017, who consequently participated at Care’s in Italy, an international event hosting chefs from 14 countries to exchange ideas and discuss ethics and sustainability in the food industry, of which S. Pellegrino is one of the sponsors.
S.Pellegrino really has become synonymous with fine dining, so that anywhere you find fine food – at home and abroad – you’ll find S.Pellegrino.