The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and BBVA have announced Andrew Wong as the recipient of this year’s highly sought-after scholarship.
Wong has been selected from a group of aspiring chefs from all around the globe who were all competing for a chance to work at three of the best restaurants in the world. The 50 Best BBVA Scholarship, organised by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants with the support of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), is now in its third year.
Andrew Wong is currently chef de partie at Auburn in Los Angeles, CA. A born-and-raised Hawaiian of Chinese lineage, Wong is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI. Stepping out of his comfort zone and deep roots in Hawaiian cuisine, Wong decided to make the move to LA for its “undeniably diverse food culture and perpetually evolving city”.
When asked what inspires him to pursue a culinary profession, Wong replied: “The relationship between food and people inspires me. Food is meaningful; it takes you places that you have and haven’t been. It can be celebratory and nostalgic; my grandmother always used to make her own nian gao [Chinese New Year cake], and eating it always brings me back to spending the day with her at the market as a boy.”
As for the next steps for Wong, he is looking forward to leaving the US and acquiring international experience in the exceptional restaurants aligned to this initiative. The annual 50 Best BBVA Scholarship scheme identifies talented aspiring chefs and seeks to develop their potential with the aid of internships, also known as ‘stages’, in the kitchens of some of the world’s most acclaimed dining destinations.
As the recipient of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2020, Andrew Wong has been invited to train at the following establishments:
• Mirazur in Menton, France, crowned The World’s Best Restaurant 2019, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, and led by chef Mauro Colagreco
• The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa, named The Best Restaurant in Africa 2019, helmed by chef Luke Dale-Roberts
• Leo in Bogotá, Colombia, led by chef Leonor Espinosa, who was voted Latin America’s Best Female Chef 2018
The stages will take place between June and November 2020. Wong will be flown to Flanders, the Flemish-speaking northern region of Belgium, where he will attend The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 awards ceremony on 2 nd June in the city of Antwerp. There he will have the honour of appearing on stage in front of the world’s leading chefs and media to formally receive the scholarship.
Each year, the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship is open to aspiring chefs aged 18 and over from any part of the world – with less than three years’ experience in a professional kitchen – as well as keen culinary students.
Andersen Lee, a 20-year-old Canadian cook, was the 2019 recipient of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship. He spent five months undertaking internships at Odette in Singapore, Core by Clare Smyth in London, and Quintonil in Mexico City.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “We would like to congratulate this year’s 50 Best BBVA Scholarship recipient, Andrew Wong, who has shown exceptional talent, drive and desire throughout the judging process. We also extend a special thank you to this year’s host restaurants for welcoming Andrew and supporting his impressive ambition and professional growth. We are delighted to continue advocating the personal development of the next generation of kitchen talent with the third edition of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship.”
Óscar Moya, Global Head of Marketing at BBVA, said, “We have seen great things in all the candidates, who inspire us to continue our commitment to gastronomy as a transformation tool. At BBVA, we work to bring the age of opportunity to everyone, and I am convinced that Andrew will know how to take advantage of this great opportunity to make the world a better place through his dishes and creations.”
Mauro Colagreco, chef-owner of Mirazur in Menton, France, said: “I have fond memories of all the chefs who allowed me to learn from them. I went through some tough times and I am forever thankful to those who gave me the chance of a lifetime. Through the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship program, I hope not only to inspire new talents, but also give them the opportunity to believe that all is possible when you put your heart into it.”