IFT Life

IFT hosts Macanese cuisine cookery contests

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

IFT and the Macau Culinary Association recently co-organised 2 cooking competitions focused on Macanese cuisine. The 10th Macanese Cooking Competition and the 7th Young Macanese Cooking Competition were held at the IFT Mong-Há Campus on 26 April.

The Macanese Cooking Competition is an annual competition for industry professionals. It aims to promote Macanese cuisine among local chefs.

The Young Macanese Cooking Competition is targeted at higher education students. It aims to offer participants an opportunity to learn more about the culture and history of Macanese cuisine.

Macanese cooking competitions are part of IFT’s efforts to assist in increasing consumer and hospitality industry awareness of this gastronomic tradition. The Institute has met that objective also by offering Macanese cuisine training courses and by hosting cooking demonstrations.

“I learned a lot about the flavours and culture of Macanese cuisine,” says Chef Yin Chan Hup, from Wynn Macau. He took part in – and won – the Macanese Cooking Competition. It was the first time Chef Yin had taken part in a competition focused on Macanese cuisine.

For Chef Becky Than Thi Quynh Giao, the Macanese Cooking Competition was her first culinary competition. She came second.

After working for about 15 years in Vietnam and Cambodia, she moved to Macao around 2 years ago. “Joining the competition made me learn about Macanese food: I tried again and again, until figuring out the right flavours, to create my dish,” Chef Than says.

The term “Macanese” refers to the city’s Eurasian population: those with ancestral ties to Portugal, Mainland China and/or to Portugal’s former colonial outposts, such as Goa and Malacca. The Macanese have a distinct social and cultural identity, cuisine and a creole language called Patuá.

Over the centuries, Macanese cuisine blended southern Chinese and Portuguese flavours with exotic new ingredients brought by Portuguese sailors. The result is a mix of influences from Europe, Latin America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia and China.

In 2017, Macanese cuisine was included in the city’s official intangible cultural heritage list. Also in that year, Macao became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of gastronomy, with Macanese food – often dubbed as the “world’s first fusion gastronomy” – playing a role in UNESCO’s decision.

The Macao Government has repeatedly stressed the importance of Macanese cuisine in the city’s unique gastronomic culture, and in the development of a sustainable tourism industry, as Macao works to transform itself into a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.

Learning through competition

Unlike some competitors in the professional category, many of the participants in the Young Macanese Cooking Competition were already familiar with Macanese cuisine. IFT has included Macanese cuisine in the curriculum of its bachelor degree programmes, in order to allow students to learn about the origins, preparation and characteristics of this gastronomy.

The winner of this year’s Young Macanese Cooking Competition was Rubie Lao. She is a Year 1 student on the IFT programme leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts Management. According to Rubie, the most challenging part of the competition was to present her own take on “Portuguese Chicken” – a traditional Macanese dish – using only traditional ingredients.

The second place in the Young Macanese Cooking Competition went to Year 2 IFT Culinary Arts Management student Robella Lam. She says competing helps students to learn how to manage their time in the kitchen. “We always want to do better; but it turns out that, in the end, if we want to do too much, this results in us running out of time and the dish becoming too complicated,” she says. “I try to stay simple and to focus on the main ingredient.”

Year 3 IFT Culinary Arts Management student Abdul Basit Qureshi agrees. “I always plan to do a lot, and finally it is easy to go over time. Time management is always a hard task for me.” Still, he was able to come third in the Young Macanese Cooking Competition.

Abdul – who came from Pakistan to study culinary arts at IFT – says taking part in cooking competitions benefits students. “The judges won’t regard you as a student, so you will need to do your best to perform well,” he says. “This really pushes us forward.”

List of winners

Winner: Yin Chan Hup – Wynn Macau
Second place: Becky Than Thi Quynh Giao – MGM Macau
Third place: Li Zhongxiang – MGM Macau
Winner: Rubie Lao – Year 1, IFT Culinary Arts Management Bachelor Degree Programme
Second place: Robella Lam – Year 2, IFT Culinary Arts Management Bachelor Degree Programme
Third place: Abdul Basit Qureshi – Year 3, IFT’s Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts Management

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