IFT held on 10 May its annual student cooking competition, offering participants a platform to showcase and further enhance their culinary skills.
The 5th IFT Annual Cooking Competition attracted a total of 9 students, mainly coming from Years 1 and 2 of the Culinary Arts Management Bachelor Degree Programme. The competition was opened to students from all IFT bachelor degree programmes.
Entrants competed in either of 2 sections: either preparing a Western-style main course – namely using tilapia or sea bream, and clams – or making a citrus- and tea-based pastry. Competitors had 2 hours to present – or “plate” in the jargon of the kitchen – 2 identical dishes: one to be evaluated on presentation and the other to be tasted by the judges.
The five-strong judging panel — comprised of IFT instructors and local industry professionals — also evaluated each competitor in terms of their creativity and cooking skills.
The winner of the main course contest was William Wang, a Year 1 student of Culinary Arts Management. William says he learned new things from taking part in the competition.
“Previously, I did not have a clear perception about the importance of food presentation,” he says. “But I now spend more time thinking about it.”
The Year 1 student adds he also benefitted from constructive feedback from the judges during the competition. “The judges helped us known more about the importance of hygiene when preparing dishes, as well as how to strike a balance between creativity and feasibility when cooking,” he says.
Momoko Leong, a Year 2 student of Culinary Arts Management, won the pastry contest. “I have definitely improved since I took part in my first cooking competition: at the time, I made a lot of mistakes,” she says. “I have learned more about time management and dish presentation throughout different contests.”
Momoko highlights the importance of the IFT Annual Cooking Competition as a platform promoting exchanges between students and industry professionals. “The judges briefed us on the latest industry trends and how to prepare dishes in a more professional way,” she points out.
For judging panel member Ms. Sam Wai Ian, the IFT Annual Cooking Competition meant returning to where she began her career. She was among the first batch of graduates from the IFT Culinary Arts Management programme, in 2015. Ms. Sam now works in the pastry department of a local hotel.
“With many acclaimed chefs putting up cooking tutorial videos on the Internet in recent years, students now have more means to look for inspiration and references in cooking,” Ms. Sam says.
“I’m really impressed by the quality of the participants; but of course, there’s still so much room for them to improve,” she adds.
Ms. Sam says competition is a good way for students to get motivated and advance their skills. “Through competition, they can have a better grasp of in which areas they need to improve to reach the next level,” she explains. “It is beneficial for students to take part in more cooking competitions to prepare themselves for their future career.”