Meet the Hong Kong Finalists of the Young Chef Young Waiter Competition
October 16, 2023
A few days from now, the city’s finest young professionals will come together to compete in the first ever Hong Kong Young Chef Young Waiter competition (YCYW).
Last month, the Beat Asia spoke to the YCYW’s outstanding line-up of judges on the upcoming competition; including hospitality professionals Shane Osborne, Richard Ekkebus, Lindsay Jang, Yenn Wong, Caleb Ng, Kristina Snaith-Lense, and Chili Ma.
Originally established in 1979 with UKHospitality and the UKRestaurant Association, YCYW finally opened their doors and launched internationally in 2022. In their mission to unite the ‘best of the best’ from all corners of the world, YCYW continues to promote hospitality as a profession.
After an astounding number of applicants of chefs and waiters aged 28 and under, the Hong Kong Young Chef Young Waiter competition is happy to announce its’ four finalists from each category!
The chefs competing this October are Ardy Ferguson from Belon, Alyssa Mae Grospe from Mr. Wolf, Angus Wong from Amber, and Michelle Lai, private chef from GoodNotes.
As for the waiters in the running: Donika Thapa and Sadikshya Limbu from Mr & Mrs Fox, Micah Corpuz from Censu, and Teddy Tso from the Ritz Carlton.
These eight finalists will be competing on Oct. 18 at More Good in Chai Wan for their chance to compete at the World Finals in Monaco in Nov. 23 to 24, for a grand prize of US$10,000.
The Beat Asia spoke to the industry’s F&B generation of trailblazers and YCYW finalists about the upcoming competition and how they plan to use this opportunity to push their individual careers forward.
“I have been wanting to join Young Chefs Competition” says Alyssa Mae Grospe (Mr Wolf), “as it’s always been an ideal opportunity to showcase the future of culinary talents. I’ve been focused on my art, and this year I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to share what I’ve learnt in my culinary journey thus far.”
“Competing with talented chefs across the city is [what] I am looking forward to the most” she nods, “I expect this to be a tough competition, but I am eager to plate my story.”
The ambition is palpable among the young chefs, with each finalist echoing Alyssa’s sentiments. While the competition incites a healthy rivalry amongst these young professionals, the prospect of meeting like-minded people in the industry is equally as important.
“I am looking forward to meeting and interacting with individuals who share the same passion for food and culinary arts”, says Michelle Lai (private chef from GoodNotes).
“I hope to be able to highlight the beauty of our local cuisine, and that eating sustainably can be done in a variety of fun and nuanced ways,” she adds.
In an admirable show of self-improvement and skilling up, a common thread shared between each of the chefs is their ability and keenness to learn from veterans in their field and their peers.
“I am mostly looking forward to showing the judges my dishes and hearing their opinions. It is both exciting and frightening to be judged by such highly respected members of the community,” expresses Ardy Ferguson (Belon).
With optimistic flair, Ardy continues, “It’s an excellent opportunity to push myself and be creative with the food I serve. I have always wanted to push the envelope on the potential of Southeast Asian cuisine and this competition is the perfect opportunity for me.”
Chef Angus Wong from Amber reiterates the chefs’ collective attitudes, “the chance to compete with other young talented chefs and receive feedback from esteemed judges is precious and I’m sure that it can help for my culinary growth.”
After a moment of introspection, Angus continues, “I hope I’m not just challenging myself, but [that I] can also learn from the other 3 talented chefs, [as] they all come from different countries and restaurants, and I’m sure that I can learn something new from them.”
Sizing up your skills and racking up new learning experiences is something that the waiter finalists can also relate to.
“The reason I joined the Young Chef Young Waiter Competition this year is to challenge myself to something new to develop my knowledge and skills” says Sadikshya Limbu (Mr & Mrs. Fox), “I’m looking forward to [pushing] my boundaries and [giving] top level service and [representing] my venue with pride.”
Her coworker and fellow competitor, Donika Thapa, is also looking to represent their shared place of business. For Donika, this will be the last year she can apply for the YCYW.
“I always believe,” she says, “every day you can learn new things, so hopefully I can catch up on new ideas. [I want] to see what I could achieve, so I took the shot.”
Fellow contestant Micah Corpuz from Censu emphasizes the excitement of taking part in the competition experience itself, sharing that she is most looking forward to “having fun,” stating “I don’t necessarily have any expectations for I’m already honoured to have been one of the finalists. The reason I joined other than being able to meet people is to learn and become better in this profession even though it’s out of my comfort zone.”
Micah’s sentiments are shared by Teddy Tso of the Ritz Carlton, who “looks forward to meeting with the other young elites in the industry”.
“I also hope to make some waiters or chef friends during the finals” he says, “I would also like to find out my level when I compare it with the others. I expect the finals will be tough, because this is my first time joining a competition like this, and it will really test out my skillset.”
Find out more about this year’s Young Chef Young Waiters Competition Hong Kong here.
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