Exploration and Evolution behind a Young Chef’s Journey to the Global Gastronomy Stage

Meet dynamic young chef, Mythrayie Iyer, from India who will be representing the region of Africa, Middle East and South Asia at the Grand Finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition 2022-23.

Since January this year, when she wowed the local jury with her signature dish, Mythrayie has been busy.

Not just cheffing back home at restaurant Farmlore in Bengaluru, India, but also travelling, researching, practising, and learning, to deepen her knowledge. Mythrayie will be cooking her dish to present to the grand jury “Seven Sages” composed of some illustrious names in international gastronomy: Pía León, Hélène Darroze, Vicky Lau, Nancy Silverton, Eneko Atxa, Riccardo Camanini and Julien Royer.

Mythrayie’s signature dish, entitled Barter, celebrates the evolution of Indian cuisine through the age of exploration, from the 15th century onwards. “Since the regional final, I’ve travelled to Lisbon, Portugal to gain more insights for the finale and to get an understanding about the world exchange of ingredients, which is the inspiration behind my dish. Lisbon is the port origin from where Vasco da Gama’s ships sailed to India.”

She explores the concept as a culinary meditation as well as a journey through history. “It provides food for thought as to what we mean by the cuisine of a country,” she says.  The dish is presented in two parts. One half uses only indigenous ingredients and shows what Indian cuisine looked like before the establishment of the trade routes and the arrival of ingredients from overseas. The second demonstrates what Indian cuisine has become today with the introduction of spices and vegetables from other parts of the world.”

In essence her dish is a continuation of the philosophy behind Farmlore, where she is head chef, working alongside chef patron Johnson Ebenezer, who is also her mentor for the competition. The restaurant is located on a 37-acre farm. “We grow most of our produce and the menu is ever-changing with seasonal ingredients from the farm.  We are discovering and rediscovering locavore traditions, cultures, and connection to our Mother Earth. It starts with sourcing produce from the nearest sustainable vendors. We’re trying one step at a time to become completely self-sustainable, completely powered by solar panels and cooking on a wood fire that we source from the farm.”

In the lead up to the final chapter of the competition she will continue working on her dish and refining a few techniques. “It’s been a constant process since the regional final. From talking to plate artists, reading more around the concept, traveling to Portugal, and of course the kitchen trials.” All of this with the ongoing support of her mentor.

“Working together with chef Johnson over the last 4 years for the restaurant, naturally led me to admire him as a mentor. We discussed the topic a few years ago during a conversation and are happy to see it taking shape on a plate. He always keeps such a cool head, constantly reminds me to have fun, put my best foot forward, and see it as a bigger opportunity leading to many more things along the way.”

Mythrayie is one of two female chefs from the 15 finalists competing for the global title of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy winner. Asked how it feels to be leading the way for young female chefs, she says, “Well of course it feels great to get that extra spotlight, but honestly I believe there is no gender bifurcation when it comes to the profession of chefs. The ability of a chef to excel professionally is up to their personal determination and grit, regardless of gender.”

Her advice to young female chefs starting out on their journey and considering entering next year’s competition, “Stay focused on getting better in the kitchen and remove yourself from the idea that your skills and abilities are limited by your gender.”

The team in South Africa and Sanpellegrino wish her the best of luck with preparations for the final chapter of the competition.

Written by Marvin Leugering

Founder of FoodBlogSA Media. B.Bus.Sc. - Marketing; M.Bus.Sc- Tourism. A career in destination marketing was calling but then my passion for food took over. Welcome to our restaurant marketing platform.

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