14 teams of students from secondary schools within Klang Valley participated in the Nutri Chef Challenge 2017.
In its mission to discover new culinary talents and nurture young chefs, the Culinary Arts School of HELP College of Arts and Technology (HELP CAT) recently organised the 5th Nutri Chef Challenge 2017. Leong Jing Ying and Amelia Low Chuan Yin from SMK Taman Connaught emerged as champions after defeating 13 teams of students.
The Nutri Chef Challenge is an annual competition and is open to Form 5, 6, Senior Middle 2 and 3 students, from secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur. The purpose of the event is to identify new and young talents for the Malaysian culinary and hospitality industry, and to encourage young chefs to show their culinary talent, creativity, innovation and presentation skills.
The theme for this year’s competition was “French cuisine @ Healthy Eating”, in which the participants had to prepare one main dish and one dessert within three hours. During the competition, students had to showcase their knowledge and skills related to: developing and following a recipe, preparation of a dish, and displaying the dish before the judging session where it will be evaluated on flavor, taste, and palatability.
Participating teams were allowed to bring their own ingredients or use sponsored food products by top brands such as Auric Pacific, Dr Oetkar, Bidor Kwong Heng, Monin, Ajinomoto, Prima Baguz, and Pastry Pro. The competition took place at the two French kitchens in HELP CAT, and was judged by a team of highly qualified chefs such as Chef Raja Kamaroszaman, an Executive Chef at Royale Chulan Bukit Bintang and Chef Ahmad Shafique, Group Executive Chef of Prima Baguz Sdn Bhd, amongst others.
“Every year when I come in for judging, I can see improvement from both the participants and the college. I believe this annual event challenges the students and helps improve the hotel industry. Naturally, we cannot compare the culinary skills and presentations of the participating students with professional hoteliers but the standard and methods of cooking of the students are quite high,” said Chef Raja, who had been a chef judge for Nutri Chef Challenge over the last three years.
(From left): Steven Tan, Assistant Manager of Customer Marketing Department at HELP CAT; Chef Shanmugam, Chef Lecturer; Nor Rashidah bt Ismail, teacher at SMK Taman Connaught; Amelia Low Chuan Yin and Leong Jing Ying, students and champions from SMK Taman Connaught; Chef Raja Kamaroszaman, Executive Chef at Royale Chulan Bukit Bintang; Nurul Huda binti Zaid, lecturer, and Chef Mohammed Razif, Head Chef Lecturer at HELP CAT at the Nutri Chef Challenge 2017 prize-giving ceremony.
“I also believe that HELP CAT has the ability to develop students into becoming good chefs in the future with their culinary department and programmes. They have good lecturers who were hoteliers in the past, and the college is well-equipped with good facilities and kitchens.”
Chef Shanmugam Rajoo, a Chef Lecturer at HELP CAT and the Chairman of the Nutri Chef Challenge, has been organising the Nutri Chef Challenge for five years since 2013. He shared that the quality of the participants has been superb as they demonstrated creativity and innovation throughout the challenge. “Some of the students displayed profound knowledge and understanding of the French cuisine. That shows that they have done their substantial research before participating in the challenge,” he added.
The Champion team won a full scholarship to pursue the Diploma in Culinary Arts at HELP CAT, in addition to a cash prize of RM1,000 per team, a Trophy Challenge, and a Certificate of Achievement. There were also attractive prizes for the 1st and 2nd Runner Ups, and other coveted prizes such as the Most Creative and Innovative Award, Most Organised Team Award, and Best Food Presentation Award.
One of the former winners of the Nutri Chef Challenge was Lai Jia Yi, who went on to win the 9th Nestle Professional Culinary Arts Award (CAA) in 2016, beating participants from Berjaya University, UCSI, and Taylor’s, and winning a prize money of RM3,000 and a six-month internship at Le Meridien Hotel with executive chef Antoine Rodriguez.
“I’ve always found cooking interesting, hands on and exciting. When I was teenager, I decided to become a chef, so I was looking around for a culinary school, and I came across this Nutri Chef Challenge organised by HELP CAT. I participated in it with a friend and we won,” said Jia Yi, who won a scholarship to study at HELP CAT when he won the Nutri Chef Challenge.