A low glass bowl contained delicate pieces of marinated and hay-smoked salmon, with artfully arranged garden vegetables, surrounded by colorful dots of sauces made with arugula, green apple, ginger and goat cheese, and garnished with caviar and fresh flowers.
Anne-Sophie Taurines, a 28-year old chef living and working in Verbier, Switzerland, prepared this as her signature dish for the 2nd annual S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, held late last month at the Belvoirpark Hotelfachschule in Zurich. The judges determined that her dish stood out among the nine others prepared by her competitors, and she won the competition. As such, Anne-Sophie will now compete as a semi-finalist for the international title of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 in Milan this fall.
I watched the competition that day in Zurich and had the chance to talk with Anne-Sophie briefly after her win. She seemed a bit tired, but extremely happy, having spent many busy hours in the kitchen preparing her dish, which would typically be served as a first course. After reviewing her recipe, which calls for lots of ingredients and multiple steps — even though I love cooking — I don’t think I would ever attempt making it at home!
This competition promotes and supports young chefs with well-developed culinary skills who are devoted to the art of fine dining, and I was eager to learn more about what led Anne-Sophie to enter this competition and her future plans.
Growing up in France, Anne-Sophie learned to cook from her mother at a young age, starting out with cakes. After attending a school of hôtellerie and restauration in Saint-Chély-d’Apcher, she worked and trained at restaurants in her home country, Corsica and Australia.
In 2010, Anne-Sophie joined the team at Restaurant et club Le Rouge in Verbier, and currently serves as Executive Chef and partner. While she began her professional career working with pastry, she now enjoys cooking savory dishes that are fresh, healthy, pretty and precise. At her restaurant, for example, one of her signature dishes is tuna tartar, seasoned with yuzu, ginger and soy.
Given my personal interest in Swiss cuisine, I had to ask Anne-Sophie about her favorite foods in Switzerland. She mentioned fondue, of course, and said she likes all Swiss cheeses, as well as fera (a freshwater fish) and cardon. In her kitchen, she enjoys cooking with foods from all over the world and gets inspired by ingredients she discovers during her travels.
At this point in her career, she entered the Young Chef competition because she wanted a new challenge, and it seemed like an opportunity that would allow her to fully express her passion for cooking. What she liked best about the competition was the freedom to cook the way she likes – with fresh or raw ingredients, local products and vegetables. From her perspective, the most difficult part of the competition was having to quickly adapt to the kitchen space that day to prepare her signature dish for the judges.
Anne-Sophie will now be working with her mentor for the Young Chef competition, André Jaeger, who served as one of the four judges for the competition in Zurich, to prepare for the grand final in Milan on October 13. Out of 20 semi-finalists, only one will earn the title of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. She looks forward to representing Swiss gastronomy in Milan and having the opportunity to meet and compete against young chefs from around the world.
I’ll share an update on this competition in the fall, and I wish Anne-Sophie the best of luck as she pursues this title! And, for more information about this competition in Switzerland, you can also check out my article for Newly Swissed.