How to Impress F&B Experts, YCYW HK Judges Weigh In
Hong Kong/ Delish/ Happenings

YCYW Competition Hong Kong Calls On Hospitality Professionals

YCYW Competition Hong Kong Calls On Hospitality Professionals Header Photo by Website/YCYW Competition 2022

“There’s nothing that inspires me more than spending time with people who share the same love for hospitality as I do” says Lindsay Jang, co-founder of two of Hong Kong’s most coveted dining spots: Michelin-starred Yardbird, and its sister-establishment, Ronin.

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As one of the city’s busiest veterans in Hong Kong’s prestigious F&B industry, Lindsay joins a diverse cast of seasoned industry professionals in judging the Hong Kong open of the 2023 Global Young Chef Young Waiter (YWYC) Competition’.

Making its first official appearance in Hong Kong, the YCYW Competition aims to put local talents on the global hospitality map, providing them with a healthy dose of friendly rivalry to take their craft to new heights. Young chefs and waiters are invited to challenge themselves and thrust their careers forward with the YWYC competition as an opportunity to hone their skills and meet like-minded peers.

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Founded in 1979 in the UK, the YCYW Competition made its move to go global only last year, gathering the best talents from all corners of the globe for the World Finals in Monaco. This year, Hong Kong contestants are slated to get in on the action for a chance to compete with some of the world's finest young professionals.

The Hong Kong competition will take place on a Wednesday, Oct. 18  with the winning chef and waiter duo joining the World Finals in Monaco on Nov 23 to 24 to compete against chefs and waiters from the United Kingdom and the United States, among other countries. All chefs and waiters under 28 are eligible to participate, and the World Champions will walk away with a cash prize of US$10,000. 

The Beat Asia speaks to the judges of both ‘Chef’ and ‘Waiter’ categories in the Hong Kong open, to find out more about what they’re most looking forward to seeing on Oct. 18, as well as how the YCYW Competition presents a career-changing opportunity for the talents of Hong Kong.

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Among the judges panel on the culinary side is Richard Ekkebus, Shane Osborn, Caleb Ng, and Yenn Wong – with judges Lindsay Jang, Kristina Snaith-Lense, and Chili Ma judging wait staff and hospitality.

Two Michelin star holder and Culinary Director of the Mandarin Oriental Richard Ekkebus recalls his own experience in culinary competitions and competitive kitchens with a figurative wink.

“It creates an opportunity to showcase and position yourself. Excelling in competition sets the tone for bigger and greater things to come. Many successful chefs build their careers on active competition participation,” says Ekkebus.

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On how the YCYW Competition could build upon ones’ career, he adds that, “competition is an incredible way to measure your skill set within your set of peers, it offers the opportunity to improve your adaptability and offers a unique experience that is a stepping stone for a successful career.”

Feature chef of Netflix’s ‘The Final Table’ and two Michelin star holder chef Shane Osborn reiterates Ekkebus’s sentiments, stating that “by entering this prestigious event, [hospitality individuals] will be pushing themselves to compete at the highest level with not only some of the best in Hong Kong, but also the world.”

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“The experiences gained, and the new friendships developed through this competition will be of great value to these stars of the future” he adds.

While the YCYW Competition pits these young talents against one another, the true value of the event lies in its ability to unite like-minded peers to learn from one another’s cultures. The competition will also allow young professionals to begin mapping out their future careers and expand their horizons.

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As with many F&B-related competitions, most of the focus is hoisted upon the food and cooking side of the industry – no doubt thanks to television programs such as ‘MasterChef’, ‘Iron Chef’, and ‘Chopped’.

If chefs are the proverbial bread of every dining experience, then the complementary butter is surely client-facing wait staff, just look at how they can keep a steady eye on all your needs and mitigate disaster across the floor. With just as much vigour, tenacity, and grace as their in-kitchen partners, Hong Kong’s best wait staff should recognise the extension of this opportunity as theirs to take: no holds barred.

Yenn Wong, founder of the esteemed JIA Group says, “I think being part of a competition, whether to win or not, it’s more of a very valuable experience to learn and to progress as well as to share with fellow competitors about their knowledge and level of standards. It’s also a great platform to show that it’s not just a job, but a real career opportunity for those who have a passion for this industry.”

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As the judges wait with bated breath for the Hong Kong YCYW open, young people in hospitality that are considering applying can read on for what the judges are hoping to see from Hong Kong’s vibrant dining scene. 

Lindsay Jang shares her earnest desire to “uncover new talent and collaborate as a team to choose the most promising candidate to represent Hong Kong.” 

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"As a judge,” says Chili Ma, restaurant manager at LPM, “I am most excited to witness the exceptional skills, professionalism, and dedication displayed by the candidates.” Adding that she is intent on watching the young contestants "inspire and motivate each other to grow and learn.”

Kristina Snaith-Lense, general manager at the Upper House, exclaims she is eager to meet the next generation of global talent, "who will elevate international gastronomy while setting the bar even higher within hospitality". She adds that "having this renowned event hosted in Hong Kong for the first time is extremely special, and I am delighted our city is highlighted as one of the world's most dynamic culinary destinations."

An open love letter to the busy young professionals in the city, the YCYW Competition calls on those who adore their role in the hospitality industry and would like to see it go further. So, what are you waiting for?

Entries for the ‘Young Chef Young Waiter’ Hong Kong competition are now open online, and the deadline is at midnight on Sept. 18. Click here to apply.

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