Armed with pots and pans, the Malaysia National Youth Culinary Team took home a gold medal for the “Restaurant of the Nations” category at the 25th IKA/Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany.
Held from February 14 to 19, the event saw the participation of more than 2,000 chefs from more than 60 nations.
The team, which comprised of Sunway University School of Hospitality students Alicia Tay, Pang Jin Yong, Amanda Cheah, Tsen Jun Yan and Amirul Ashraf, as well as Ilya Dayana from Kolej Yayasan Pahang, also won a silver medal for the “IKA Buffet” category.
Team captain Tay said she and her team mates combined modern cooking techniques with traditional flavours in the “Rasa-Rasa Malaysia” theme for both categories.
They prepared a menu of warm trout and seafood mousseline with laksa sauce, lentil and trout fritters, and pickled salad with puffed tofu.
The main course comprised coriander and ginger-torch flower crusted chicken with tamarind sauce, five-spice roll, chicken ravioli, stuffed cabbage, squashed puree and market vegetables.
For dessert, the team presented chocolate mousse with honey madeleine, hazelnut cake, passion fruit, banana compote, yuzu sauce and whipped ganache.
Tay, who was in charge of pastry making, said the team spent 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week, training for the competition.
“The training was to sharpen our skills and ensure that we were well prepared. For me, the preparation of ingredients played a crucial part in cooking a dish. When the cutting or chopping of some elements is not done properly, the results will show when we serve our dishes,” she said.
“Besides, ingredient preparation was one of the criteria judged in the competition.”
She said as the team captain, it was her responsibility to keep the team’s communication and cooperation in check.
“There’s quite a few of us in a group. So we have different perspectives and points of view. It took a while to be on the same page, but at the end of the day, everyone had the same goal.
“Of course, there were ups and downs in our culinary journey. Usually, after training, we sat down and discussed what we had done, what went wrong and how we could do things better.
“It was a huge privilege for us to represent our country. But, at the same time, we felt a bit pressured. Despite the nervousness, we just did our best for Malaysia, the team and our families.”
Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Dr Elizabeth Lee said she hoped the win would be an inspiration to budding chefs who wanted to achieve more in the culinary field.
“They went through a rigorous training for the competition. We are extremely proud of them and their hard work has finally paid off,” she said at the celebratory gathering held on March 6 to honour the team's achievement.