Catarina Reis from the University College Birmingham has won the title of Superfoods Peru Young Chef of the Year 2019.
The competition, now in its third year, is run by the Peru Trade and Investment Office to raise awareness of Peruvian superfoods in the UK and is open to chefs up to the age of 25.
Five finalists took part in the three-hour cook-off at Westminster Kingsway College, London, yesterday (23 April). The competition stipulated that each course had to contain a superfood.
Competitors didn’t need prior experience of Peruvian cooking and are encouraged to research inspiration for their creations to help them understand Peruvian flavours.
Reis, 25, wowed the judges with her vegan menu using ingredients inspired by Peruvian cuisine, which comprised: ceviche of avocado, mango and sweet peppers, garnished with aromatic quinoa and amaranth mosaic, spicy popcorn and a pomegranate, tangerine and coriander marinade; followed by textures of sweet potato, artichokes and asparagus with umami king oyster mushroom scallops (below); while dessert was Peruvian cocoa, chilli and lacuma powder, served with a sharp passion fruit jelly, caramel-coated chia seeds and blueberries.
Dean Burnham from North Warwickshire and Hinckley College came second, while Cleider Aveiro from Lima London came third.
Reis was presented with a Superfoods Peru Young Chef of the Year 2019 trophy and a trip to Peru to spend a week at the country’s top restaurants, Amaz, Libertador and Astrid & Gaston.
Reis said: “This experience was a great challenge for me. Trying to create a vegan menu was definitely not an easy task, especially when competing with other menus that contained animal protein and not being vegan myself.
“This competition was a fantastic opportunity to learn about Peruvian cuisine. The experience has opened many doors in the catering industry and I hope this will benefit my career greatly.”