“Creating deluxe cuisine is like playing a sport: always competitive, always challenging,” famed French Chef Joël Robuchon once said. Understanding that competition creates culinary progress, IFT regularly holds extra-curricular contests among its students.
The Institute held the third Annual Student Cooking Competition in November. About 30 entrants competed in 2 sections: one to cook a Western-style main course and the other to cook a pastry dish. Competitors had to make the dishes with ingredients revealed to them only a fortnight before the competition.
IFT Assistant Professor Dr. Christy Ng was a judge in the pastry contest. “We had a lot more competitors than we initially expected,” she says.
Dr. Ng encouraged students in Year 1 of the programme leading to a bachelor degree in Culinary Arts Management to enter the competition. “They might not win but it is a good learning experience for them and they get to meet people in the industry,” she says.
Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd Director of Culinary Operations, Food and Beverage Mr. Christophe Duvernois says these competitions are important for the development of young chefs. Mr. Duvernois was also a judge and he was full of praise for the quality of the entrants. “This is the future of our chefs in Macao,” he says. “Maybe one of them will someday become a Michelin-starred chef.”
Studio City Pastry Chef Lai Chu also sat on the judging panel. “The dessert part was fantastic,” he says. “The entrants are really talented. I was impressed.”
Dr. Mark Gibson, who coordinates the Culinary Arts Management Bachelor Degree Programme, says the competition is becoming more popular each year. The competition is open to all IFT students taking bachelor degree programmes.
The entrants were judged on more than just their culinary creations. “That was only part of the marks,” Dr. Gibson says. “The rest of the marks were given according to the way they work in the kitchen. Are they well prepared? Do they work cleanly, hygienically?”
He says the competition stimulates students to improve. “Everybody has the chance to see what everyone else is doing. Year 1 students become inspired by what they see from Year 4 students.”
A Year 3 student of Culinary Arts Management, Paul Lam, won the pastry contest. “In 2015, I also entered but I didn’t win any prize. This time I worked really hard,” Paul says.
The winner of the main course contest was Iris Ung, a Year 4 student of Culinary Arts Management. Iris was competing for the first time and says she had little expectation of victory. “I was surprised,” she says.