John Lennon had once asked the world to “imagine all the people sharing all the world.” A very close reality to this imagination was seen at the inauguration of the Young Chef Olympiad, world's biggest culinary competition for the young chefs at Delhi’s Talkatora Indoor Stadium this past Sunday.

“The reason behind organizing such an event is that we believe that food is an art. It goes beyond boundaries. It brings people together, resulting in harmony and happiness,” said David Foskett, Chairman of the jury for YCO 2018. “We are doing this to bring the world together,” he added.

This Olympiad is the brainchild of the founder of International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), Suborno Bose, “Chefs from 43 countries will be cooking their national dishes under one roof,” he said. “It will be a moment of great pride and consonance. We almost had a chef from Pakistan, too, but he could not get a visa. It makes us sad.”

The competition will be held over six days across four cities – Delhi, Bombay, Pune, and Kolkata. The judging panel has eminent personalities like Sanjeev Kapoor, Kunal Kapur, and Ranveer Brar.

Thivarakeshia Fernando, a young chef representing Sri Lanka, was both nervous and excited to be a part of the competition. “This is a very big opportunity for me. It not only has given me a chance to achieve great heights but also to visit India. I have had a wanderlust for the country for a very long time.”

South African contestant Bethmaree Bezuidenhoudt came a few days before the competition started. “I really wanted to visit Agra. I have fallen in love with the city. It has been a great journey so far, both metaphorically and literally. I am very excited about all this. I hope I win.” She has come to the competition without a mentor. “I have learned all the skills required, and the rest, I will learn from the brilliant judges and the other participants.”

Walter from Zimbabwe was sure that he was going to win the competition, and also befriend the rest of the contestants. “I am here to make memories for a lifetime and win the coveted trophy.”