ICA Alumni Finalist in S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2020!
2018 Graduate, Callan Austin
Yet another ICA graduate has made it onto the shortlist for the S.Pellegrino Young Chef award for 2020! In 2015, ICA Alumni, Angelo Scirocco, walked away as the winner in his region (Africa & Middle East) and this year Callan Austin will once again aim for that title.
Callan graduated from the ICA in 2018 on the 3-Year Diploma Programme, specializing in Product Development. His stand out signature dish was handpicked from over 2000 candidates in over 50 countries that now stand a chance to be selected as one of the 12 finalists going through to the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2020 Grand Finale in June 2020.
The dish named “The Ghost Nest” was inspired by the opportunity to tell an important story about ocean preservation, his entry literally having a message behind each and every element on the plate – from the spiralized kohlrabi emulating the forgotten ‘ghost nests’ left by trawlers that continue to entangle ocean life, never decomposing, to the deep-fried scales symbolizing shimmering plastic as a result of pollution.
“Becoming a chef was never part of my agenda after high school. Like most people I had no idea what I wanted to spend my time doing. Fortunately, I enrolled myself at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, marking the beginning of my culinary journey. As each year and industry placement went by, my attitude towards the culinary industry changed, I felt like I belonged and that everything I did contribute to a bigger picture. It’s an empowering feeling. I am currently working at Le Coin Francais under my chef de cuisine and current mentor, Darren Badenhorst. Darren has created a stimulating environment for me to grow as a young chef. Le Coin Francais cuisine embodies classic French techniques with a modern yet sophisticated flare. We actively forage for local ingredients weekly which is a theme that has carried over into my own cooking style.”
Five years ago, the ICA placed Callan under the expert guidance of Chef Darren Badenhorst for his very first industry placement. Callan attributes the ICA’s unique dedication to carefully selected industry placements as integral in recognizing a potential for his growth as a future chef, leading to a special partnership between student and mentor.
Being chosen as a semi-finalist for such a prestigious, international competition is exciting for Callan as he now has the opportunity to voice his message of ethical, sustainable and seasonal cuisine through an art form that is the most relatable for everyone. “Through this competition, I strive to prove that chefs can be creative, intricate and thoughtful as well as practice sustainable cooking.”