STAMFORD, Conn. — Chef Rafael Covarrubias of Hexagon Restaurant in Oakville, Ont. has been named the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Competition North American Regional Semifinal. As winner, the 25-year-old chef will move on to compete in the competition’s Grand Finale in May 2020 in Milan, Italy.
Covarrubias’ signature dish of mole-negro spiced Muscovy duck, preserved prune and winter roots earned him top marks for his technical skills, genuine creativity and an exceptional personal belief about gastronomy.
“I came to Canada from Mexico for the pure love of cooking and I’m so honoured to represent North America on a global culinary stage in Milan,” says Covarrubias. “I’ve met so many hardworking, talented chefs on this journey and I hope to inspire others to push themselves past their comfort zones to achieve their goals.”
The judging panel included Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson of CHARCUT Roast House, Rob Gentile of Buca Restaurants, food writer and author Jordana Rothman and Michael Solomonov of Zahav.
In addition to the regional winner, three new awards were introduced this year at the competition, reflecting S.Pellegrino’s belief in the transformative power of gastronomy and its impact beyond the kitchen. Jeremy Stephens of New Orleans received the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy for creating a dish that represents the beauty of different cultures coming together; Marvin Palomo of Oakville, Ont. was awarded the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for best representing his personal beliefs within his signature dish; and Kathryn Ferries of Ottawa received the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility for best representing the principle that food is best when it is the result of sustainable practices.
Winners of the three awards will also be invited to attend the Grand Finale alongside some of the biggest names in gastronomy from around the globe.