Culinary students got creative with hawker-dish-inspired creations at the Young Chef Symposium 2019 held on 17 August at Nanyang Polytechnic’s L’Rez training restaurant.
On a bright Saturday morning last week, L’Rez, Nanyang Polytechnic’s training restaurant, came alive with the buzz of friendly competition. Martens Laura Elizabeth and Gerald Wong, second year students from the institution’s Food and Beverage Business course, were vying to see who would come up tops in creating two hawker-dish-inspired dishes. Based on the brief, at least one of the dishes had to make use of one or all of these items:
- Flavoured ham by F&G Food Pte Ltd (chicken-based)
- Popiah ingredient and/or skin
- induction cooker by Kang Jie Technology
This was the itinerary of the day for Young Chef Symposium 2019, an annual event organised by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to inspire culinary students to fulfil their dreams of becoming chefs. Patrick Tay, managing director of F&G Foods, Gary Goh, deputy CEO, e2i, Esther Ho, director, School of Business Management, Nanyang Polytechnic, and Kang Jie, Director of Kang Jie Technology, formed the judging panel.
Gerald, assisted by fellow student Richmond Heng and chef mentors Heman Tan from Iron Supper Club and Charlie Tham of York Hotel went first, presenting his dish of fried yam ball with coconut cream, popiah laksa, and yam paste with gingko nut and pumpkin. He explained that the dish combined tradition and innovation as it included the age-old orh nee orh or Teochew yam paste dessert together with more unusual elements such as the fried yam ball filled with luncheon meat and a pipette of coconut cream served on the side.
Laura, assisted by classmate Gabriel Toh, and mentors Chef Ah Boy from Good Chance Popiah Eating House and Brenda Chew, chef lecturer at Nanyang Polytechnic, presented her dish of Hainanese chicken rice popiah served with two snacks of achar and luncheon meat and purple bakchoy, as well as a dessert of red bean ravioli chendol with coconut sorbet. She highlighted that they made the chendol from scratch as the fresh aromas of pandan would elevate the dish.
After tallying up combined scores from the judges and spectators, team Laura emerged the winner in a tight finish. In high spirits at the close of the event, Laura and team said that in the three months that they spent preparing for the event, they learnt a lot through brainstorming dish ideas and possible flavour combinations. Laura added that she was glad that she got better at making chendol from scratch as it was a dish she only started learning to make a few months ago.