EYCA 2023_Cristina Pons

Cristina Pons, the young ambassador of Menorca’s cuisine

“My goal in cooking is to transmit through a dish and its story my way of seeing and living life, as well as my memories and experiences. I believe that people are happy when enjoying food and in the end, that is what I like about being a chef: having in my hands the possibility to bring moments of happiness,” says Cristina Pons Benavides, who will represent Menorca, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2023 at the 7th European Young Chef Award.

Cristina is 23 years old and she has concluded a higher degree in Kitchen Management at EHTB in Barcelona. Since she was a child, everyone knew that what she liked most was cooking and, after two years studying Economics, she decided to dedicate herself to what made her feel complete.

“Menorca today is a gastronomic reference thanks to the sustainable way in which local people have taken care of their land and sea, and all of the products they provide,” claims Cristina. “For this reason, in recent years we have been trying to give our island the visibility it deserves and show the rest of the world our culinary richness, that always goes hand in hand with the history of our land.”

“Being able to participate in the European Young Chef Award 2023 is a great challenge and, at the same time, an excellent opportunity to learn and live moments with other young people who share my same passion: cooking,” she adds.

At the European Young Chef Award 2023, Cristina will present her dish Records (Memories), an innovative interpretation of the traditional recipe Calamars plens, a dish of stuffed calamari that is typically served in Menorca at Christmas. According to the tradition, in most Menorcan families there were some members who would go out and fish squids to cook them at Christmas Eve, when the whole family gathered around the table.

“An enchanting image when Christmas time approaches, is seeing all the boats leaving Ciutadella port at sunset, with all their lights, heading out to fish squid,” explains Cristina. “The inspiration to create my innovative version of this recipe comes from those festive moments shared with my family, and that cheerful feeling of coming back home that grows even stronger when it comes with good food.”

About IGCAT’s European Young Chef Award

The European Young Chef Award is an annual competition organised by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Art and Tourism (IGCAT) that gathers young culinary talents from the awarded and candidate European Regions of Gastronomy. Selected each year through local contests, finalists to the European Young Chef Award compete by innovating traditional recipes from their regions using local ingredients.

The 7th edition of the European Young Chef Award is organised and promoted by IGCAT and hosted by Hauts-de-France, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2023. The competition will be held at the Lycée Hôtelier Le Touquet on 20-24 November 2023 and is supported by Hauts-de-France 2023 consortium members: Chambre d’Agriculture Hauts de France; CCI Hauts de France; Chambre des Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts de France; Hauts de France Tourisme; Plateforme des Organisme du Tourisme; UMIH Union des Métiers et des Industrie de l’Hôtellerie; UniLaSalle; Programme Investissement Avenir; Caisse des dépôts; GIP Forinval Amiens; Région Académique Hauts de France; and Région Hauts de France.

About the World/European Regions of Gastronomy

World/European Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to strengthen food security through the celebration of distinctive food cultures; create employment by stimulating creativity and gastronomic innovation; nourish children and adults through culinary and cultural education; driving environmental sustainability in tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors; supporting balance and sustainable tourism practices; highlighting and supporting expertise from within rural and urban communities, creating connections and sharing good practices; and contributing to community health and well-being.


IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance of protecting and promoting distinct regional food, culture, arts and natural assets as part of sustainable and balanced tourism and development strategies. This is essential to safeguarding our planet, health, wellness and local economies.

IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.

IGCAT founded the World/European Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the World/European Regions of Gastronomy Platforms. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award, the World Food Gift Challenge, the Top Websites for Foodie Travelers Award and the international Food Film Menu.