CADZAND: Sergio Herman has become the first international mentor for Fundazion Uccelin, a foundation set up by Swiss chef Andreas Caminada to support new talents and help them gain experience internationally both in kitchens, in front of house and with artisans and producers..
“When I created the Foundation, there was nothing like it. This industry has given me a lot and I wanted to give back by helping young talents find their way through facilitating training.” he told Food and Wine Gazette.
In Cadzand, at Air Republic, one of Sergio Herman’s restaurants, the Swiss chef announced that he was welcoming the Dutch chef as the first mentor to support this initiative.
“We are very happy and thankful that Sergio has taken the time to engage with the Foundation. He was one of the first chefs to support us when we organised a charity event and he is the first international mentor. With his experience and knowledge, Sergio is a perfect ambassador for our industry,” Andreas said.
On his part, Sergio joked it was only natural to support Andreas given ‘we are brothers from another mother’ due to the uncanny resemblance of the two.
But leaving jokes apart, the Dutch chef and entrepreneur who has built a restaurant business after the closure of his flagship restaurant Oud Sluis said it was natural to support new talent and build the future. “We are getting older and we need to think of the future. There are many young talents but the line is very thin and we need to instill passion and dedication and help the younger generation in any way we can. We also need to give them all our skills to learn, to be able to create and do something about it on a daily basis,” Sergio said.
“Fundaziun Uccelin was founded to individually foster ambitious talents within the gastronomic industry with the long-term goal to secure highly skilled and passionate professionals for our wonderful craft” said Uccelin’s founder Andreas Caminada.
Since its foundation in Switzerland in 2015, the initial engagement has grown into a global network with over 60 of the world’s most successful restaurants and producers as partners for the foundation’s internship program.
Talents who have been accepted for the 20-weeks-scholarship are allowed to choose their individual places where they can train selecting from places as varied as Osteria Francescana in Modena, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill, Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park, Virgilio Martinez’s Central to mention a few names. By offering this kind of backing for young professionals the foundation creates a unique opportunity for the next generation to gain insights into the global culinary diversity.
“But we are not only providing trainings. We also offering mentoring support and constantly seeking for role models to enhance our ambitions on an international scale,” said Andreas.
Sergio, who is today one of the most acclaimed culinary entrepreneurs in Belgium and the Netherlands said he always believed there is a moment when it clicks. “I remember when I was young and without direction, I was working in a 2 Michelin star restaurant and the staff there saw something in me. Because of their support, I felt the power and energy to push hard. It was so important to feel support. And I believe it is the same when it comes to supporting others. It is important to give people the feeling that they have a shoulder to rely on. Many people speak about a particular moment when it clicks, we need to be responsible to help them find that moment,” he said.
Sarah Caminada, the managing director of the foundation said that so far the foundation has trained and supported 17 pupils. “The most important thing for us is that they get experience from restaurants, producers and artisans. The 20 weeks of the programme are divided into different trainings. We help by covering the cost of travel, accommodation and also provide pocket money for the training,” she said.
The foundation is independent and raises funds from a contribution of every menu sold at Caminada’s three Michelin star restaurant (2 Swiss Francs per menu) as well as annual fund raising events. Sergio Herman took part in the first ever fundraising event. In 2017, Massimo Bottura took part in the fundraising event while last year Gaggan cooked with Andreas Caminada to raise funds for the foundation.
Sarah said that the Foundation wanted to support more talent and raise awareness on the possibility to apply for such a scholarship. “The only restriction is age. Applicants must be younger than 35 and they need to have at least three years experience,” she said.
Apart from structured training, Sarah and Andreas said the success of the foundation is to give the young talents a networking opportunity that will be valuable for life. “Most of the students that have taken part in the programme have got great job offers from the places they visited,” Andreas said.
About FUNDAZIUN UCCELIN
To sustain today’s top-quality gastronomy, it is essential to nurture young talents in a systematic way. While there are already a number of training opportunities for promising gastronomy professionals, their focus is usually on attaining an academic qualification rather than on expanding the participants’ individual talents.
Fundaziun Uccelin aims to close this gap. Its key objective is to provide aspiring chefs and service professionals with an opportunity to expand on their expertise and immerse their insights, so that they can act as ambassadors for their chosen discipline.
Carefully designed curriculum
The foundation provides three specific training programmes – one for promising young Swiss chefs, one for their international peers and one for talented waiting professionals. The foundation also provides scholarships towards further education and training. All three training programmes share the same modular structure, encompassing fundamental skill sets taught over a period of 20 weeks. The 20-week-scholarship program comprises several individual on-site assignments, hosted by a network of selected producers and restaurants.
The foundation has a supervisory board of five personalities from gastronomy, business and culture. The foundation’s president is Andreas Caminada. Its four other supervisory board mandates are top chef Tanja Grandits from Basel, the artist and photographer Rolf Sachs and the two entrepreneurs Beat Curti and Hans-Peter Strebel. Sarah Caminada is the Managing Director of the foundation, which has its registered offices in Fürstenau, Graubünden.
Written applications for scholarships can be submitted twice a year, in March and September, via the Foundation’s website. The current application cycle runs until March 30, 2019.