Azerbaijan Wins YCO 2024 Gold, Philippines and Nepal share Silver and Italy Bronze


Pune, 6th February 2024: The historic and grand 10th IIHM Young Chef Olympiad drew to a close at a glamorous Closing Ceremony organised in Kolkata. Azerbaijan’s Leyla Valiyeva won the coveted gold trophy. The silver was shared between Philippines’ Clifford Jeff Cadunggo Unabia and Kamal Thapa of Nepal. Italy’s Francesco Orsi lifted the bronze trophy.

At the end of seven eventful days across six cities in India, an epic edition of the world’s Biggest Culinary Battle came to a glamorous close. Connecting over 60 countries of the world, YCO24 was one of the biggest in size and scale. The Closing Ceremony was equally grand and exciting as it took place at Kolkata’s popular amusement park, Wet o Wild.

Besides the top three, YCO 2024 had a long list of special category winners. The Plate Trophy round that was held between the next best teams ranked between 11 to 20 in the competition, went to India’s Lenin Bopanna. The Kitchen Cut Management Award went to New Zealand. The Best Vegetarian Dish went to Nepal while the Best Crème Souffle a l’Orange went to Italy.

Six Best Mentor Nominee Awards were given away based on each of the mentor’s recommendations about their respective participants. The awards went to Greece, Jordan, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea. The six Best Young Chef Ambassador Awards went to Australia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Scotland, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Participants were also marked on Best Hygiene and Kitchen Practice maintained during competition and this award went to six countries, namely, Namibia, Portugal, England, Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan. The Best Knife Skills Award went to Thailand, Portugal, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Lord Bilimoria Rising Stars Award went to Namibia, Albania, Uzbekistan, Mauritius, Ireland and Oman. The Gold Global Sustainability Award went to Kenya. The Spirit of Young Chef Olympiad International Award went to Lesotho.

The Dr Bose Challenge Trophy that was introduced this year for participants who did not come in the top 20 teams, went to Kenya and Switzerland.

Organised by the International Hospitality Council (IHC) and hosted by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), YCO 2024 was a true celebration of the spirit of One World One YCO.

YCO 2024 had a brilliant panel of esteemed judges from around the world. Led by Prof David Foskett, OBE, Chairman of the Jury, Chef John Wood, the Founder and Director of Kitchen Cut was Chief Judge of the event. Deputy Chief Judge was Chef Rahul Akerkar, renowned Chef and Restaurateur. The panel of Jury included some famous globally famous culinary faces such as Chef Gary Maclean, National Chef of Scotland, Sicilian Chef Enzo Oliveri, pastry chef and chocolatier Sarah Hartnett, Dato’ Chef Abdul Wahab Zamzani, Celebrity Chef from Malaysia, Chef Neil Rippington, International Director, IIHM and Chef Mario Perera, Executive Chef Dorchester Collection.

YCO 2024 continued to embrace the important and significant theme of Sustainability promoting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A special award, the Zenobia Nadirshaw Diamond Research Award went to students who had done research on the SDGs and how to achieve them to make the world a better place to live. Four awards in this category went to Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Italy.

“Preparing and organising an event of this stature needs the might of an organisation and leadership that runs a network of connected institutes across the country, manages people from different places, with an alumni base of tens of thousands and is loved by the entire world,” said Padma Shri Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Principal Judge and Mentor, YCO.

“There are years when nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen. That’s what happened in the pandemic. It taught us the importance of health and sustainability and brought us close to food. I am so glad that YCO has embodied both food and sustainability in this competition,” said Nakul Anand, eminent hotel an travel industry personality who is now Chairman of the YCO Global Advisory Committee.

“YCO 2024 was special because it was the 10 year. It had been a wonderful decade in which we have received incredible support from the countries, mentors, judges and everyone who was involved. We are absolutely committed to the UN SDGs and we are also proud and grateful to the UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili for his support, specially because he launched the 10th YCO by inaugurating the chef jacket that the participants are wearing this year. The Young Chef Olympiad is the greatest platform to promote Youth Culinary Diplomacy, a platform to bring the world together through the power of youth. YCO will continue to celebrate and carry forward the spirit of One World One YCO in the years to come,” said Dr Suborno Bose, Chairman, International Hospitality Council (IHC) and Founder, YCO.

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