A 20-year-old Canadian cook has been selected as the recipient of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2019, an opportunity to spend five months undertaking internships in three world-famous restaurants across three continents.
Andersen Lee decided that he wanted to become a professional chef at an unusual time: he was washing dishes at Provisions, a restaurant in Montreal, Canada. “I saw first-hand what it took to run a fine-dining establishment,” said Lee in his application for the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship. “All the detail, the precision and, especially, the team. I fell in love [with cooking] when I discovered the unique bond that's created when cooks work together.”
Now, the aspiring young chef will have the opportunity to challenge himself among new brigades as he prepares for the culinary adventure of a lifetime, having been selected as the winner of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2019.
The scholarship programme, first introduced by 50 Best and BBVA in 2018, aims to nurture the talent of an up-and-coming cook by completing stages in three restaurants in the 50 Best family. Lee wins the opportunity to work for six weeks each at Odette, Singapore; Core by Clare Smyth, London; and Quintonil, Mexico City after receiving the scholarship on stage at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 awards ceremony in Singapore on Tuesday, 25th June.
"To have won the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2019 has truly left me lost for words,” says Lee, who currently works at restaurant Bouillon Bilk in Montreal. “Being a chef is not just about the food; it’s about the respect for the environment, discovering yourself and working with ambitious people. I'm so excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Lee at work in the Bouillon Bilk's kitchen
Lee’s scholarship will begin at Odette – the restaurant recently crowned No.1 in Asia – under the guidance of chef Julien Royer. This will be followed by a stint working with the elit™ Vodka World’s Best Female Chef 2018, Clare Smyth, in the UK. Finally, he will be mentored by Mexcian chef-restaurateur Jorge Vallejo at Quintonil, completing the five-month gastronomic journey.
“The chefs selected for this year's scholarship are renowned for their leadership style and refined dishes using day-to-day ingredients,” says Lee. “Seeing this first-hand will allow me to grow at an accelerated rate. Observing how things are done differently is crucial for growth.”
Lee was selected from a pool of applicants from over 70 countries following a three-level judging process that included written submissions, testimonies, self-produced videos and live interviews. In one video, Lee explained the concept and preparation behind a dish comprising duck, carrot, shiitake mushroom and coffee.
“I believe ordinary ingredients can turn into the extraordinary, as long as there's an eager team that is willing to evolve and bring a dish to the next level,” suggests Lee, highlighting his passion for seasonal, humble ingredients such as carrots.
“To me, food should be sustainable and ambitious, yet constantly evolving. Being from Montreal, the melting pot of cultures affects the way I cook. I typically use ingredients, flavours and techniques from Europe all the way across to Asia and back the Middle East.”
Header images: Andersen Lee and his dish with duck, carrot, shiitake mushroom and coffee