Junior chef winner Shaista Shantkumar Anoop and senior chef winner, Siphephelo Mtshali. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

The winners of the 2019 Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year have just been announced. 

The finals were held at the Umhlanga Unilever head offices last week.

The competition was held in five categories - senior, junior, team of four, high tea, and trio of desserts. 

Chef from the Southern Sun Elangeni, Siphephelo Mtshali was crowned Senior Chef of the Year walking home with R20 000 in prize money, while Shaista Shantkumar Anoop from 1000 Hills Chef School was crowned Junior Chef of the Year, and taking home R15 000.

Contestants were required to prepare a three-course menu to serve to the judges using the produce from a communal table, which included premium quality fish, meat, and seasonal fruit and vegetables. 

Mtshali prepared seared Salmon as a starter, smoked chicken breast as a main, and lemon-infused white chocolate mousse for dessert. 

“I cannot believe this. I am speechless. Thank you to Unilever Food Solutions for the award and thank you to my team from the Southern Sun Elangeni for the support,” he said. 

The heat was on at the Unilever kitchens this week as chefs went head-to-head to be crowned Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Junior chef winner, Anoop prepared baby squid as a starter, pan-roasted lamb loin as a main, and chocolate mousse, micro sponge and butternut cheesecake for dessert. 

She said this was her third year of entering the competition, and last year she came second. 

“I am so excited, I still can’t believe it. The only way to go was up, so the pressure was really on. However, I had the support of my team around me, so I am very happy, said Anoop.

IKAPA Caterers won the team of four category which secured them R50 000 in prize money. 

The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa’s Phindile Shezi and Alicia Giliomee won the high tea category, and Joanita Venter from the Beverly Hills Hotel walked away with the trio of desserts top honours. 

Speaking at the ceremony, senior judge, Executive Chef of Tsogo Sun’s Sandton Convention Centre, and president of the SA Chefs Association, James Khoza said the standards on display at this year’s Chef of the Year competition augurs well for the country in terms of tourism. 

“The standards were high and proved beyond a doubt that South Africa can compete on a global level. Thank you Unilever Food Solutions for giving Chefs the platform they need to expand their careers,” he said. 

Executive Chef of Unilever Food Solutions, Craig Elliott said they believe Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year gives chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills and talent to the broader industry, which opens new doors for them.