28 February 2023

Professional Cookery student wins silver student award at international cooking competition

John Michael Kochev, a Professional Cookery student who travelled to India last month to compete in the world’s biggest culinary student competition- the Young Chef Olympiad- recently returned to Scotland with a well-earned silver student award.

Between the 29 January and 4 February, John competed against students from around 60 countries in two rounds of cooking, where he was judged by a panel of over 30 of the world’s best chefs on a series of skills tests and dishes.

These dishes comprised of several of the six recipes John created in preparation for the contest, including a national dish, which he cooked alongside the many other competing countries in a unique cultural experience that quickly became the highlight of his competition.

John said: “India opened my eyes to how other countries work and how the hospitality industry works. I made a lot of friends from other countries, from places like Switzerland, Ireland and Wales, and it was a really amazing experience. I was overwhelmed by it, and I’ll take a lot away from the competition.”

Despite being his first time competing, John used the skills and knowledge he developed at the College to persevere through a diverse set of cooking challenges, including the Dr Bose challenge- named after the founder of the Young Chef Olympiad- in which John came second out of 26 countries, after being tasked with creating a dish using the surprise ingredient of millet flour.

Jack Evans, Lecturer in Hospitality and Professional Cookery, and John’s mentor, said: “I’m very proud that he stuck with it and persevered. He knew it would be challenging and he put a lot of work in. I’m happy with what he did and he’s happy with what he did, which is the main thing.”

Having travelled to India to support John and serve as his commis chef throughout the Young Chef Olympiad, Jack also brought back a gold mentor award for the guidance he offered John throughout the contest.

Meanwhile, the pair were highly commended, and came fourth overall, for their approach to sustainability- one of the central focuses of this year’s contest- following a presentation they gave on how they carry out, and hope to improve upon, sustainable practices at Edinburgh College.

Due to these successes, the College has been invited to compete in the Young Chef Olympiad again next year, giving John the opportunity to pass the knowledge he gained from the experience onto the next student.