Jessie Liu, a 24-year-old chef from Taipei, Taiwan, has been announced as the first ever recipient of the 50Best  BBVA Scholarship. The scholarship, developed in conjunction with global financial group BBVA, has
been created to nurture the legacy of culinary excellence which the annual awards promotes, with entries open to aspiring chefs from across the globe. Over 1,000 ambitious cooks from 82 different countries applied for the single scholarship.
Liu will be given the opportunity to spend three months working first with Andoni Luis Aduriz at his restaurant Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain (No.9 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017) and then with Dominique Crenn (voted The World’s Best Female Chef 2016) at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, USA. She will be presented with the scholarship on stage at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on 19 June in Bilbao, before embarking on six-week stages at each of the aforementioned restaurants.
William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, comments: “The 50 Best BBVA Scholarship will offer Jessie and future winners the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shadow and learn from some of the globe’s most celebrated chefs. We were truly astounded by the strength of the entries, evidence of the excellence of the raw talent in the culinary world today. Jessie impressed us with her determination to succeed, her passion for developing new dishes, her respect for the world around her and her appreciation of cooking as an art form. We have no doubt that Jessie will go on to great things in the restaurant world.”
“Winning this scholarship is a dream come true,” says Liu. “Despite never having been to culinary school, I now have more confidence to prove myself as a professional chef. Working in kitchens has always been very
exciting and humbling for me, and I am ready to step it up a notch. I also hope in the future I can give back to the industry by offering young chefs the same opportunities that I have been lucky enough to receive.”
Oscar Moya, Global Head of Branded Content and Sponsorship at BBVA, comments: “The debut of the 50Best BBVA Scholarship has its origins in BBVA’s gastronomic training and scholarship progamme, in which
thousands of aspiring chefs from around the world have participated over the last five years. The winner of the first scholarship is an undeniable example of hard-work and enthusiasm, and we are extremely pleased
to be able to provide her with the opportunity to spend the coming months in two of the best restaurants in the world.”
The winner, who currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia, has just two years of cooking experience and began her career in a bistro in her home city of Taipei, Taiwan. With no formal training, she is self-taught
and prides herself on creating dishes that touch hearts and inspire people – and has ambitions to open her own restaurant within the next decade.
The second round of the application required applicants to perform a cooking demonstration, as well as present their food philosophy in the form of a short video. Liu prepared a dish of traditional Taiwanese rice dumplings (Zong Zi) to commemorate her grandmother, who sadly passed away on the day the young chef found out she had reached the second stage of the process. “I created a dish out of the precious memory of
my grandmother. My version of Zong Zi offers a nostalgic taste of the traditional meals of my childhood, but I tried to make the dish visually striking and to further enhance the flavours,” she adds.
A further two young chefs were awarded the accolade of 50 Best BBVA Scholarship runners up. Adriana Payan, 21, from Mexico, created a dish to support her entry inspired by her childhood spent travelling across
the world. Moris Moreno, 25, from Colombia, worked solely with ingredients grown on his family farm for his cookery demonstration.
Dominique Crenn, who will welcome the scholarship winner into the Atelier Crenn kitchen in San Francisco this summer, comments: “Life is about inspiring people, but also about being inspired by others; about being curious, but also offering the next generation what you have learnt. Being part of this mentorship is a real gift for us, helping us understand where we are today and where we can be tomorrow.”
The scholarship was awarded based on a number of judging stages led by 50 Best and BBVA representatives, together with chefs Aduriz and Crenn, including written submissions, supporting testimonies, self-produced videos and live interviews. Applicants for the scholarship are required to have less than three years’ experience in a professional kitchen.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 list, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, will be announced on 19 June at Euskalduna Centre in Bilbao, Spain, complete with a glamorous red-carpet reception and postawards celebration. The star-studded evening will be preceded by #50BestTalks, a culinary thoughtleadership conference exploring food developments, restaurant trends and chefs’ stories, which takes place
at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian on 17 June.



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