Culinary Chef Shai brings home the bacon, once again

September brought about that time again – the famous and highly-anticipated culinary battle for the title of Unilever Junior Chef of the Year. And we were lucky to have not just one, but several of our young chefs selected to participate, including graduates Chef Shaista Shantkumar Anoop (Pastry Lecturer at 1000 Hills Chef School) and Chef Miencke Labuschagne. Having presented an unparalleled menu, Chef Shaista took the win – a real cause for celebration as it’s our school’s 10th time claiming the title! This goes to show our young chefs know how to ‘walk the walk’, showcasing their skills to the highest level and proving why they are sought after all over the world. We would like to extend a big congratulations to our Chef Shai – we’re so proud of you and your sensational cooking. The food industry is lucky to have you!

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A culinary chef showdown

Every year the Unilever Chef of the Year cook-offs give exceptional young chefs from all over the country the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills and battle it out with the best of the best. The first round takes place in Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg. Six young chefs compete in their respective provinces, with the top two from each going on to battle it out for the title in the finals. Winners receive titles for their respective categories – these being: Senior Chef of the Year; Junior Chef of the Year; Team of Four; High Tea; and Trio of Desserts.

Some of our chef students competed for the title of Junior Chef of the Year, alongside Chef Shaista, with four of them making it to the KZN Regional finals of the competition. Leandre Bond, S’busi Ngcobo, and Robin Baney, (Advanced Diploma students) competed alongside Class of 2018 graduate Miencke Labuschagne. Lebo Mahooa, a first year student, bravely took on professional chefs in the Senior Chef of the Year Competition. Well done to all of you, we are so proud of your efforts!

Shai’s winning menu

In the finals, Chef Shai was presented with the challenge of preparing a three-course meal for three judges, using produce from a communal table. And each finalist had to prepare their dishes using at least ten Unilever Food Solutions products. Chef Shai was up to the task – her finals menu was nothing short of spectacular. She made the Unilever ingredients the star, combining flavours in a beautiful, sophisticated and elegant way. And plating her creations to perfection. 

Chef Shai made a strong start in the final cook-off, impressing the judges with her technical starter – baby squid, beetroot and egg yolk pasta, broccoli pesto, seasonal veg and mushroom sauce. For her mains, she presented an exquisite dish of pan-roasted lamb loin, ostrich, choux pastry with a lamb pate, pickled apple, turnip puree, and a mélange of veg with a red cabbage consommé. And as for Chef Shai’s dessert, that really took the cake! She wowed the judges with pork craquelin, dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate trio (white chocolate, paprika and wild berry), wheatgrass micro-sponge, butternut cheesecake, strawberry, and black pepper, pistachio, raspberry and berry sauce. An excellent menu, and a deserving victory. 

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Are you a future Junior Chef of the Year? 

1000 Hills Chef School applauds Chef Shai on her exceptional win. She is a real testament to our school, and a fine example to all young chefs-in-training. Do you have what it takes to be crowned Unilever Junior Chef of the Year? Refine your culinary chef skills at our award-winning chef school and maybe one day you’ll get selected to participate!

Like the sound of this? Get in touch with us and let’s talk about your enrolment: