KDU’s Annual Power Chef Culinary Competition Gives Early Exposure to Secondary School Students

Participants of Power Chef 2016 preparing beverage for one segment of the competition.  The Champion – Low Mei Shin (from left) and Tee Lih Rong receive the trophy from Ms Kitty Lee, Head of SHTCA, KDU University College. 
Clad in full uniform as a culinary students, participants from Confucian Private Secondary School working on their dishes with full concentration.   
Culinary arts is increasingly gaining popularity among the younger generation. As one of the top culinary institutes in Malaysia, KDU University College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts (SHTCA) puts serious effort in molding the talents, not only within the School but beyond!

The annual Power Chef Competition has steadfastly stood as a solid platform for young talents seeking to explore culinary arts as a possible future career path. Young as they are, participants excitedly sought the opportunity to showcase their talents in this avenue.

This year event saw a participation of 110 students from 20 secondary schools around Klang Valley. With 55 teams of two, the intense battle was on for the honorable title of ‘Power Chef’ on 16 April 2016, at the school’s impressive state-of-the-art culinary kitchens and facilities spanning over 65,000 square feet.

The teams had to go through three categories, before points were tallied for each round. The first round was Mocktail Challenge followed by Hot Cooking Challenge where they need to prepare appetizer and main dishes. The teams were given ingredients to work with only on the competition day. As such, there were no pre-planned menus of what they’d like to cook. The teams had to be quick-thinking, spontaneous and creative in order to showcase the best of their culinary talent.  Some of the appetizers dishes created by the teams included Caesar salad, egg salad; roast, baked, pan fried chicken; mashed potato and such.

In Hot Cooking Challenge, the teams were given an even bigger challenge – The Black Box! Tasked with creating an appetizer and main course dish, the black box system was where the teams have no inkling of what the ingredients were, until the clock began for that particular round.

“We wanted to challenge the participants’ swift response capability, and the black box helps with just that. The teams are not told what to expect, but expect for the unexpected!” said Ms Kitty Lee, Head of SHTCA.

The judging panel was made up of SHTCA chef-lecturers, who looked into several categories such as hygiene and sanitation in the kitchen, team work, culinary skills, presentation skills, creativity of using the ingredients provided, as well as taste of the dish.

After rounds of intense competition, participants waited for the announcement of the winners with bated breath. To their great surprise, Tee Lih Rong and Low Mei Shin, both from culinary management class in Confucian Private Secondary School, Kuala Lumpur, were announced as the Overall Champion Overall. The duo walked away with cash prize of RM1200 each.

“We needed to complete two dishes in 45 minutes, this was not an easy task for many of us, as time was just constrained. But our effort finally paid off!” said Tee Lih Rong in great excitement.

Tee further explained where her passion came from and shared her dream, “I’ve always dreamt of studying culinary arts. This is my dream and goal in life. When I step into KDU for this competition, I strongly felt that the vision in my dream has finally came true. I am indeed amaze with the good facilities here. I hope that I’ll be able to study in KDU in the future.”

First runner up went by Eunice Teh Jun Yi and Putri Nurashikin Samsul Bahari from SMK Assunta, with a cash prize of RM1000 each; second runner up winners were Choo Kok Kent and Kee Yen Thon from Sekolah Sri Bestari, who walked away with RM800 each; fourth place belonged to Mugilan Naidu A/L Ravinthran and Amirrul Aiman Bin Anuar from Victoria Institution, each won RM500 ; fifth place went to Nur Iftita Rahmi Bin Yawaldi and Noor AswalizaBinti Abu Baker of SMK Bukit Rahman Putra, who each won RM300.

KDU University College’s SHTCA culinary arts facilities, which is the biggest for an institution in South East Asia, provide ample space for niche studies in molecular gastronomy, chocolate & confectionary and charcuterie. Specialised culinary labs for sugar craft, chocolate-craft, barista training, oenology and ice carving also ensure that KDU students eventually become all-rounded graduates in the culinary arts industry.