KDU Culinary Arts Chef Lecturers And Students Triumphed At The Indonesian Salon Culinaire Competition

The whole team of KDU representatives posing for the camera Group photo of KDU representatives bearing the Malaysian flag
Chef Mohd Noor Izam Said and Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir with their well earned awards Second semester Diploma in Culinary Arts students, Nurul Najwa bt Hakim and Chen Poh Chu holding up their awards
Carved vegetables and fruits prepared by Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir  

Being one of the smallest groups in the 11th edition of Indonesian Salon Culinaire held in Jakarta, did not hinder KDU’s School of Hospitality, Tourism, and Culinary Arts (SHTCA) entourage comprising of two senior chef lecturers and two students in clinching several prestigious awards in all of the categories which they competed in.

Their victorious experience, a total of four Silver and two Bronze awards, was made even sweeter when senior chef lecturer Hamirudin bin Nazir was announced as the Most Outstanding Chef in Artistry.

The Indonesian Salon Culinaire, which took place at the Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran, was held in conjunction with the Food and Hotel Indonesia 2017, the 14th International Hotel, Catering Equipment, Food and Drink Exhibition from 5 April to 8 April 2017.

The categories which saw the KDU entourage securing the awards were:

Silver in Team Hot Cooking – Australian Beef Challenge Class 23
  Chef Mohd Noor Izam Said and Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir - Senior chef lecturers
Silver in Individual Ice Carving Class 10
  Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir
Silver in Fruit and Vegetable Carving
  Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir
Silver in Tabasco Hot Cooking – Mackerel Fish
  Nurul Najwa bt Hakim - second semester Diploma in Culinary Arts student
Bronze in Tabasco Hot Cooking – Salmon Fish
  Chen Poh Chu - second semester Diploma in Culinary Arts student
Bronze in Junior Asian Challenge Class 27 (Team)
  Chen Poh Chu and Nurul Najwa bt Hakim
Most Outstanding Chef Award in Artistry
  Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir

Driven by passion and love for culinary artistry, the KDU entourage travelled all the way from Malaysia to test their mettle, skills, and techniques against some of the world’s finest chefs from around the globe.

The Indonesian Salon Culinaire was a competing ground for over 700 contestants coming from different South East Asian countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, China, and Indonesia, and various backgrounds, be it major players in the hotel industry, restaurants, education institutions and so forth, with each bringing their own unique approach in order to create the best dish to win the highest level of award. The competition itself was hosted by the Association of Culinary Professionals, which saw a judging panel of 40 professional culinary experts from Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, India, China, Malaysia and such, to evaluate the quality and presentation of the contestants.

According to Chef Mohd Noor Izam Bin Said, what he believes was a tipping point in his favour was that he included a dash of local flavour to his winning dish. “I had specifically prepared my dish to suit the local taste buds of the judges, as I believe this could give me the upper hand for them to like my cooking, hence better scores,” Chef Izam explained.

When asked about the most challenging experience that they had to overcome in preparing for the competition, Chef Izam stated, “It was challenging from stage one of preparation - starting off with planning the menu, purchasing the ingredients, storing the cooking ingredients and logistics, since we needed to transport the produce all the way from Malaysia to Jakarta.”

He added, “The most challenging experience was finding the right produce as we needed to make sure that the temperature for storage is at the most optimum level so as not to compromise the quality of the ingredients.”

Participating in competitions come as second nature to Chef Hamirudin bin Nazir, who has won numerous awards and accolades throughout the years. “In terms of the competition itself, as experienced chefs, we have had more than our fair share of experience and preparation from many previous competitions.” However, he also strongly believes that one should continuously train and prepare, no matter how experienced they are, in order to hone their skills. Chef Hamir noted, “The most meaningful experience is when we fail at our attempts because through failure, we keep on challenging ourselves. The failures are necessary for us to learn from our mistakes and make the necessary adjustments to perfect our cooking techniques.”

“The vigorous training is part of our culture here at KDU as we train our students for major competitions, with them staying back for training sessions and utilising after-working hours to create the most suitable menus for any competition. It’s a norm for our culinary students to be seen around in the kitchen after class hours, perfecting their cooking techniques while supervised by the chef lecturers and even having comprehensive discussions with the chef lecturers on the menus that they plan to prepare for upcoming competitions,” Chef Hamir continued.

Diploma in Culinary Arts student Chen Poh Chu, stated, “I am truly thankful to Chef Muhammad Edwan Bin Shaharir (Chef Lecturer at KDU’s SHTCA) as the team coach for coaching, guiding and showing me the cooking methods and preparations of Japanese cuisine, as I started off not knowing what is needed to prepare those dishes.” She added, “Chef Edwan has been very accommodating as he helped me to design the menu with such sophistication, which ultimately, helped me clinch the award.”

On top of that, Chu mentioned, “I find training for the competition was as well and smooth as it could be. This is also made possible because we are equipped with industry-standard state-of-the-art facilities here at KDU. In fact, I even applied what only a final year student could do, which is the gastronomy molecular techniques in my cooking, due to the training that I received from the dedicated chef lecturers.”

At KDU’s School of Hospitality, Tourism & Culinary Arts, students are exposed to a solid experience that further improves their culinary expertise when they participate in such competitions. Not only can they learn new things in advance, but they also get the chance to learn or exchange ideas with other competitors from different backgrounds when they compete in such events.