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Remembering Billy Gallagher and Alen Thong

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United Arab Emirates, 23rd February 2017

The inaugural ‘Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Young Chefs Challenge’ saw nine junior national culinary teams from Africa, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia, compete for the prestigious trophy. The challenge took place between December 5-7 at La Cuisine by SIAL Middle East, an important culinary event originally built by the late John Alen Thong in association with SIAL.

Eventually it was Singapore’s junior national team that lifted the Alen Thong trophy, with Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates teams claiming the first and second runner-up spots respectively. Annelise van der Merwe from the Namibian junior national team won the ‘Billy Gallagher Trophy for Most Promising Young Chef of the Year’. The trophy was specially instated in memory of the legendary South African Chef who passed away last May. 

The prize distribution ceremony was held at a special VIP dinner attended by over 100 senior chefs including Thomas Gugler, President of WorldChefs; Uwe Micheel, Assistant Vice President of WorldChefs and President of the Emirates Culinary Guild; and Andy Cuthbert, Chairman for Development of Young Chefs at WorldChefs, Continental Director – MEA for WorldChefs, and Chairman of the Emirates Culinary Guild. The event also saw all nine junior national teams from China, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Germany, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UAE in attendance. 

“Many of us are committed to the development of the young chefs from around the world and we as the Emirates Culinary Guild would like to make this competition a sustainable legacy for a great man and an opportunity for young chefs to develop and shine on the competition circuit,” said Uwe Micheel. 

Andy Cuthbert added further, “Billy Gallagher had told me before his passing away that he wanted to give some sort of recognition to a young chef with great potential. The ‘Billy Gallagher Most Promising Young Chef of the Year Trophy’ is our way of making his wish come true.”

The three-day event was an eye-opener for many of the junior national team participants, as this was their first trip to the Middle East or even outside their home country. Annelise van der

Merwe from the Namibian junior national team, who won the ‘Billy Gallagher Trophy’, said, “This is surreal. Receiving this recognition from among some of the finest young chefs from around the world, is a humbling. It only strengthens my will power to do better and to live up to the name of the legendary Chef Bill Galagher, who is associated with the trophy I have won.”


By Aquin George

Managing Editor – Gulf Gourmet

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