S. Pellegrino chef seeks new opportunities
Securing one of only three semi-final spots in the prestigious global S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 competition has been just the platform young entrepreneurial Auckland chef William Mordido needed to boost his new business.
At just 25, Philippine-born and Auckland raised William was one of three young Kiwi chefs selected to compete at the Australia-Pacific regional section of the challenge in Melbourne recently.
William, who has launched his own pop-up restaurant business, Buko, Jason Kim, sous chef at Auckland’s Sidart restaurant, and Robert Fairs from Christchurch’s Roots restaurant were among 10 talented rising young chefs handpicked for the semi-final. The young chefs competed for a chance to enter the Grand Finale in Italy where hand-selected by ALMA, the world’s leading international educational and training centre in Italy.
A distinguished jury of chefs evaluated each of the semi-finalists, who prepared their own signature dishes, and were judged on their ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and message. John Rivera, a young Australian chef, formerly of Auckland, won the regional competition and now goes to the global finals in Milan, Italy, in June to compete as one of 21 finalists.
That finalist crown went to founder and chef at Auckland’s upmarket Apero Food and Wine restaurant Lesley Hottiaux in 2016 who says that opportunity gave her an incredible international platform to display her passion and skill.
For William, just securing the prestige of being one of the top three in New Zealand to compete in the select regional final has paid dividends.
He made good business connections in Melbourne for Buko and ran his first pop up gig in Melbourne – a classy six-course degustation dinner .
William’s Phillipine heritage and years spent helping his mother in the kitchen has strongly influenced the flavour and style of his cooking. “It’s also influenced by the flavours I grew up with in New Zealand,” he says.
The dish that woo’ed the jury in Melbourne was a take on one of his mother’s Filipino dishes. “I did an Umami Consommé using three different types of mushrooms, dried shrimp, fish sauce and green papaya, finishing off with cooked tapioca, and teamed that up with jack mackerel, pickled shallot, coconut pumpkin puree and a tapioca crisp.”
The former Sky City apprentice has worked at a number of restaurants, but says he was surprised that he made the cut to compete as one of the top three in New Zealand. “I was the only one not working for a restaurant,” he says. “I had nothing to lose, so decided to give it a go.”
William grew up on avocado, but mostly served as more of a dessert-style item. “We had avocado shakes, flavoured with condensed milk, as children.” The guests loved his avocado mousse, based on this childhood favourite. “I made an edible avocado shell out of chocolate. Back in the Philippines avocado was never a savoury item. It was on the dessert menu.”
Deboned quail, steamed briefly and pan-seared with paprika was another favourite in Melbourne, as was William’s arozz caldo, similar to a savoury rice porridge or congee. “Our arozz caldo is really full of flavour, using chicken and ginger.”
South East Asian Pandan leaf and coconut are infused into this mousse-style dish, featuring coconut and mango gelee and jackfruit. Ube is a key ingredient in many Filipino desserts.
William’s hoping to take Buko worldwide, partnering with other restaurants overseas as he develops his concept further. “I’m also really focusing on my Willpower New Zealand brand – that’s based on my ethos.”
“The S. Pellegrino competition has brought a lot of exposure to my pop up project,” says William. “Eventually I want to start my own hospitality group and open multiple venues.”