The 15th edition of QOCO ended with very positive results. The ten competing chefs, selected from Belgium, France, Italy (with 2 chefs in the competition), Netherlands, United Kingdom, Slovenia (with 2 chefs in the competition), Spain, and Turkey, all selected by JRE - Jeunes Restaurateurs, gave their best, expressing their personal culinary culture with imagination and creativity.
The QOCO Andria 2023 competition, which was born in 1999 and after 10 years of hiatus, took place in the beautiful small town of Andria at Villa Carafa, located north of Bari, surrounded by splendid olive groves. Among the participants, there were chefs, food critics and journalists.
The first day of the competition was spent visiting the amazing JRE Member and Michelin star restaurant Quintessenza located in Trani. It was a wonderful experience, and the food was truly outstanding.
The second day was the day of the competition and the XV edition of QOCO closes with very positive results. The ten competing chefs, selected from Belgium, France, Italy (a country with 2 competing chefs), the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Slovenia (a country with 2 competing chefs), Spain, and Turkey, all selected by JRE - Jeunes Restaurateurs, gave their best, expressing their personal gastronomic culture with imagination and creativity. And if the main objective was to enhance the Puglian extra-virgin olive oil in excellent cuisine, this objective can certainly be considered achieved. The young chefs submitted ten very different dishes to the jury, influenced by the culinary traditions of their respective countries but opening up to new interpretations and valorizations, also in the direction of the guest country. The competitors had access to all the professional equipment they needed, as well as all the ingredients for which they had requested. The kitchen was enormous, and they had help from other professional chefs. They could also use five people to assist with plating.
Ernesto Iaccarino, a member of JRE-Italy, chaired the jury, and Gega Repovz, from JRE-Slovenia, was also among the judges.
The jury, chaired by Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino, proclaimed the winner to be chef RAFAEL ARROYO MARTÍNEZ competing for SPAIN with Crema calda all'olio di oliva evo, vongole e branzino del mediterraneo.
SECOND PLACE went to MARTIN ZUPANC from Slovenia with FISH and CHEESE.
THIRD PLACE went to ANDREA VALENTINETTI for Italy with APPLE and OLIVE OIL (dessert on a plate).
"Al calare del sipario - commenta Giovanna Bruno, Sindaco di Andria - è tempo di bilanci e di prospettive. Un grande successo di critica e di pubblico che ha lasciato tutti entusiasti. Tra gli ingredienti fondamentali del successo, empatia tra gli attori del concorso (specie tra tutti i giovani cuochi), professionalità e spirito di appartenenza ad un territorio che è fortemente identitario proprio rispetto all'agroalimentare e in particolare all'alta gastronomia. Andria capitale dell’olio extravergine di oliva, si conferma terra di incontro e di scambio enogastronomico e culturale. QOCO - conclude - è un paradigma umano di valore assoluto, una pianta che continueremo ad annaffiare, poiché siamo certi della bontà dei frutti che verranno".
Sindaco di Andria
RAFAEL ARROYO MARTÍNEZ, originally from Granada, 34 years old, emerged as the winner among the 10 participants by presenting a dish, a tribute from Andalusia to Puglia, with great character and personality, characterized by extraordinary simplicity and purity of flavors capable of maximizing the presence of extra-virgin olive oil. A dish of remarkable character that greatly surprised the jury for its "marked Mediterranean style and flavor and strong enhancement of the freshness notes and perfumes of extra-virgin olive oil". "A dish that combines modern technique with full respect for tradition," said President Iaccarino.
Second place goes to Slovenian MARTIN ZUPANC, 32, from Srednja vas v Bohinju. Currently a Sous Chef at the Michelin-starred "Hiša Linhart" in Radovljica, he presented the dish "Fish and Cheese".
Third place goes to Italian ANDREA VALENTINETTI, 38, from Venice, Chef Patron of the "Radici Restaurant & Cocktail Bar" in Padua, with "Mela e Olio", a dessert on a plate.
Regarding the competition, the immediate comment from Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino, presidents of the examining jury, which included not only food and wine critics but also renowned starred chefs, is very positive.