This weekend, Simon Stirnal from restaurant Schloss Loersfeld in Kerpen and Jens Hildebrandt of restaurant Reinstoff in Berlin have won the semi-finals in Vienna, and will be in the competition at the finals in Cologne on 12 October.

The winner, 32-year-old Simon Stirnal, convinced the judges with his brilliant craftsmanship and subtle compositions against six other competitors. One of the judges, of Gourmet Restaurant at Palais Coburg, said of the winner: “The winning menu has convinced us with its creativity and balance. [Simon] has successfully combined pronounced aromas resulting in a delicious overall result.” Simon Stirnal created a dish of tomato on a bed of onions for starters, a main course of filet of sole with garden peas, mushrooms and bacon, and a dessert consisting of strawberries, butter milk and parsley. The jury was made up of such prominent chefs as (La Vie***, Osnabrück) and Lisl Wagner-Bacher (Landhaus Bacher**, Lower Austria). Coming in second was Jens Hildebrandt, whose brilliant starter consisted of cucumber, wasabi and bread, his main of pork belly, coriander and root vegetable, and his dessert of almond, lemon grass and bergamot.

The event in Vienna was the last semi-finals, after Hamburg, Cologne and Achern. More than 1.000 visitors, innovators and journalists enjoyed the show cooking by high-profile international chefs and exclusive talks. Spanish chef Oriol Castro wowed audiences with his “New ways of gastronomy” and the “iChefs” Stefan Lenz, Markus Pfeiffenberger and Fabio Winkelhofer created innovative dishes made of three components: pork leg, trout and lovage.

No less impressive was the last semi-finals of the Pastry Chef of the Year competition, held on Sunday. The two winners in Vienna are Enrico Christ of restaurant Atelier at Munich’s Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Germany and South Tyrolean Raffaele De Luca of restaurant Das Central in Sölden, Austria. They will take part in the finals at Anuga in Cologne on 11 October with the other six finalists.

René Frank (La Vie***, Osnabrück), Christian Hümbs (Haerlin**, Hamburg) and Andy Vorbusch (SÖÖT, Düsseldorf) have been some of the prominent judges. The 27-year-old Enrico Christ convinced the jury with his creation called Asian Spring made of shiso, yuzu, avocado and sesame; his blueberry, violet, yogurt and macaron dish and his composition of coffee, poppy seed and apricot. Second place went to Raffaele de Luca with his delicious creation of a Tyrolean Forest with an intricate scene of poppy seed and apricot tree with coffee and a Schüttelbrot praline. Judge Andy Vorbusch said: “He told a story that really set the scene.”

Images©Melanie Bauer