Young HK chefs scoop top awards

February 3, 2019

In the male-dominated culinary industry, five young women have set their sights on forging careers as Chinese cuisine chefs. They were brought together by the Chinese Culinary Institute to form its first-ever female chef team to compete in the 2018 Asian Culinary Exchange in Shanghai last October.


Cloris Choy, Agnes Lee, Melody Tang, Victoria Yau and Zoe Yip are Chinese Culinary Institute graduates. They were up against some tough competition, cooking against chefs from places including Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia and Shanghai.


Their three hot dishes, an appetizer and a dessert impressed the judges, and the team came home from the competition with three golds and two silvers.


Creative dishes

The team chose “The Misty Rain of Jiangnan” as the theme for their five dishes which won them the Distinguished Styling Award.


“The competition was held in Shanghai. Suzhou and Hangzhou are around Shanghai. These places have spectacular scenery. So we set our theme as ‘The Misty Rain of Jiangnan’ to create an artistic concept. Each of the five dishes has a beautiful Chinese name. We also plate them in an elegant way,” Ms Lee explained.


Every detail of each dish is meticulously thought out, including the dessert.


“It is a deep-fried purple sweet potato puff which looks like a vase. In keeping with our vintage Jiangnan theme, I shape my puff to look like an antique Chinese vase,” noted Ms Yau.


Girl power

The team’s success at the competition was not only a proud moment for Hong Kong, but for the chefs themselves.


“This is recognition for Chinese female chefs,” Ms Yip said.


“Chinese kitchens are traditionally dominated by men. But I believe female chefs can also shine with our professionalism and passion.”


Chinese Culinary Institute Programme Manager (Chinese Catering & Operations) Pierre Lau formed the team. He said the young women did not know each other before the competition, but were put together as they had all performed well in other local competitions.


“The five girls get along well and showed good team work in the competition. This is what the industry really needs and this is what pleased me the most.”


Broadening horizons

Hong Kong’s Western cuisine chefs have been doing equally well at culinary competitions.


International Culinary Institute graduate Henry Lee bagged two golds at the Ningbo International Young Chefs Challenge in October.


To broaden students’ horizons, the International Culinary Institute organises exchange activities for them and invites master chefs from all over the world to host cooking demonstrations here.


International Culinary Institute Chief Instructor (Food Preparation - Western) Boris Leung said the students are encouraged to take part in world-class culinary competitions.


“As a teacher, I am glad to see my students winning at international culinary competitions. For them, it is recognition. To the industry, it is inspirational.”

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