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IFT student Paul Lam wins Macao Young Chef Competition

IFT Year 4 student Paul Lam (right) was the winner of the 10th Young Chef Competition

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

IFT Year 4 student Paul Lam won the 10th Young Chef Competition, held by the Macau Culinary Association at the IFT Mong-Há Campus on 6 October.

“This is my final year at IFT. I gave it my best shot, one last time as a student, to see how far I could go,” Paul says. He is studying for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts Management.

Each contestant in the Young Chef Competition was required to produce, in less than 3 hours, a starter, main course and dessert. The contestants had to prepare 2 servings of each course, one for the judges to taste and the other for the judges to assess how it was presented. A competing hotel or other type of establishment could enter up to 2 contestants below the age of 27 years.

Paul first entered the annual Young Chef Competition last year and came third. He says he learned from that experience and improved his skills by doing the internship required by his study programme. An IFT student pursuing a bachelor’s degree must do a 6-month internship in Year 3.

“When I first entered the competition, I had so many ideas in my head about plating, only to realise I couldn’t achieve the result I had hoped for,” Paul says. “But this time round I was a Year 4 student, and I had done a 6-month internship in the industry, so I could deliver 80 to 90 percent of what I planned.”

Of the 11 finalists in the Young Chef Competition this year, all but Paul and another IFT Year 4 student pursing a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts Management, Moses Pun, were working in Macao resorts or hotels.

“It was the first time I had entered the Young Chef Competition,” Moses says. “Everything was new to me. I was not very confident about being able to finish my dishes on time, but still wanted to try. We had to create everything by ourselves, from the menu to the recipes. It was, of course, nerve-wracking.”

Moses says he learned from competing. The contest gave him the opportunity to interact with professional chefs and see them in action. “There are, for sure, differences between my dishes and those done by contestants working in the industry. I have learned a great deal from them,” he says. “Also, seeing how well they performed, it actually makes me more passionate about cooking.”

Another of the contestants in the Young Chef Competition this year was an IFT graduate, Ms. Otilia Rodrigues Novo. She came third. Ms. Rodrigues Novo graduated in 2015 among the first batch of IFT students awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts Management. She now works at the St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central hotel.

Ms. Rodrigues Novo says competing in a cooking contest is different from what she does from day to day in her hotel kitchen. “In a competition, you must pay attention to many details, such as the rules, the tidiness of your workstation, the cooking time and temperature, the plating,” she says. “Also, you are alone when you are competing, while there are colleagues helping you when you are at work.”

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