Zhou Mengxin poses with her winning tapa. Pablo Neustadt/©ICEX.

The winners of Monday’s International Tapas Competition, selected from among the nine participants in the ICEX Training Program in Spanish Gastronomy, were announced on Wednesday night during the award’s ceremony for the National Pinchos and Tapas Competition

Author: Adrienne Smith/©ICEX.

After a fierce competition – but one that was infused with camaraderie – the nine participants in the ICEX Training Program in Spanish Gastronomy, officially bid goodbye to this cultural and culinary program at last night’s award’s ceremony in Valladolid with the announcement of the winners from Monday’s International Tapas Competition

First place went to Zhou Mengxin of China for her Salmorejo with crunchy Ibérico pork on a rice crocant with olive oil. She won a trip for two to Barcelona next October, where she will be inducted into the Joven Cofradía del Cava (Young Cava Guild) by the Regulatory Council of DO Cava and give a master class at the Escuela Universitaria de Turismo in Barcelona. She also won two nights stay at any Parador hotel and a chef’s coat designed by Ailanto.

Second place winner was Geneva Melbyof the USA for her tapa entitled, Valleys and Vineyards, rabbit with forest bread. Geneva won a stay at the Wyndham Riomar Hotel in Puerto Rico for five days, where she will present her tapa and do a stage to promote Spanish gastronomy there. And finally, the third place winner was Rafael Wojtasik of Poland for his Summer tapa. Rafael won a complete set of chef’s knifes from Martínez Gascón and a scholarship to the summer course at the International School of Culinary Arts in Valladolid (E.I.C.).

The competition was the final stage of a program that commenced with an initial training period at the E.I.C., followed by a three month internship in one of the country’s best restaurants and a two-week trip around Spain getting an in-depth look at this country’s finest products and producers. For the final competition, which was held in conjunction with the annual National Pinchos and Tapas Competition in Valladolid, each chef had to present a tapa to a jury led by renowned chef Juan Roca, and comprised of Rafael Anson, President of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; ICEX Chief Executive Officer, María del Coriseo González-Izquierdo; Fernando Salazar, Vice-President of Wyndham Hotels; chef Oriol Castro of Compartir Restaurant and elBullifoundation; Inés Menéndez de Luarca, Director of the ICEX Food and Gastronomy Division; Lourdes Plana, Director of Madridfusión; Jean Pierre Salazar of the Omni hotel chain; Jaime Fernández, President of the Valladolid Restaurants’ Association; Julio Vallès, President of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy of Castile-León; and Bruce Mattle, Associate Dean of the Culinary Institute of America.

Congratulations to the winners and all of the participants in this competition!!


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