Local semi-finals in Cape Town

The local semi-finals for Africa & Middle East region will take place in Cape Town at South Africa Chefs Academy on the 23rd of February. The 10 finalists will cook their signature dish to win over the jury, for the chance to represent the region in the finals that will take place in Milan, June 2015.

During phase two of the competition, the 10 young and talented finalist chefs under the age of 30, will gather together to compete in a local regional challenges. Each region will have a jury composed of independent top chefs who will taste the signature dishes of the finalists and choose the best one, according to the five Golden Rules: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty, message.

Chefs David Higgs, Joe Barza and Uwe Micheel have been named as the Middle East and Africa’s jury members for the local selection. They will select one finalist from their region to join nineteen other regional finalists for the grand final in Milan in June 2015.

Higgs, of Five Hundred at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg, has had a long and distinguished career spanning almost a quarter of a century. 2013 Eat Out S.Pellegrino Chef of the Year, he has set up numerous award winning restaurants in South Africa, as well as his own cookery school - The Higgs School of Good Cooking. He counts cooking for the late Nelson Mandela as one of his proudest career highlights.

He is joined by Joe Barza, one of Lebanon’s most colourful and best-loved chefs and culinary consultant. Barza is well known to Middle Eastern TV audiences, having co-hosted the popular Top Chef show. He is also the executive chef behind a host of restaurants in the Middle East, as well as Boiland, a store selling organic ingredients in Lebanon. A member of the organising committee for the Dubai World Hospitality Championship, he is currently rolling out the Beb Idris restaurant across London and the Middle East.

Last, but by not least, Uwe Micheel completes the Middle East jury. Few chefs command as much respect as Micheel in the UAE restaurant scene. Originally from the town of Celle in northern Germany, Micheel moved to Dubai in 1993, and became director of kitchens at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek. He has won numerous awards - including the Time Out Outstanding Contribution award - and has held the position of president of the Emirates Culinary Guild since 1999.

This unique initiative by the world famous sparkling water, synonymous with the gourmet food and true ambassador of the art of Italian living, reaffirms its commitment to enhancing and consolidating the fine dining culture all over the world and to promoting emerging talents.

By the end of February, the 20 best local young chefs from each world region will be announced as the official finalists.

Follow the hashtag #SPYoungChef if you do not want to miss any update about the event.