Thinley Namgay 

Sonam Tshering, a trainee at the Bhutan Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (BITH) in Thimphu represented the country at the recent ninth international Young Chef Olympiad in India. The 20-year-old is from Pemagatshel.

The competition which was held from January 29 to February 5 saw hundreds of young chefs from more than 55 countries.

The Young Chef Olympiad is the world’s biggest cooking contest for culinary students organised by the International Institute for Hotel Management, India.

Although Sonam couldn’t win any prizes, he said that it was a rare learning opportunity. He was nominated by the officials from the BITH after a competitive selection among trainees.

The journey in India was Sonam’s first international trip. He said the competition was held in New Delhi, Goa, and Kolkata.

Sonam Tshering said, “I am honoured to represent Bhutan in the world’s biggest culinary competition.”

“It was a great experience and exposure for a young chef like me.  I met with the best chefs from across the world,” he said, adding that he enjoys cooking and aspires to be a well-trained chef.

Sonam Tshering said he was astonished by the facilities during the Chef Olympiad. “I saw all the required ingredients to make any type of dish.  Cooking instruments are advanced.”

He said it was difficult to get ingredients locally.

Sonam Tshering said that such exposure in other countries is necessary for any aspiring chef.  He said that a chef has a good career opportunity in the 21st century’s hospitality sector.

Sonam Tshering was accompanied by his trainer Chef Ngawang Gyembo.

Chef Ngawang Gyembo, 26, said that besides making many international dishes, participants were also made to prepare one of the local dishes.

Ngawang Gyembo said that Young Chef Olympiad is one of the platforms to foster friendship and learn from each other.

He said that patience and consistency are two qualities needed to become a chef.   “Chef can earn better than many other jobs. As a chef, we must learn to prepare new dishes every day.”

The last two editions of the competition were held virtually owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in addition to the governments of 10 Indian States.