Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Iron Chef-style dishes by students

As part of their final examinations, the second-year Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management (Hons) students, specialising in Culinary Art and F&B Management or Genie Culinaire, had to plan, envision and ultimately create an exquisite dish for four people from two surprise baskets of ingredients – a vegetable basket and a meat basket.

The students were required to utilise three compulsory French cooking techniques, while drawing on their own imagination and creativity to cook up something spectacular and present it in style.

The three techniques which the first group of students had to complete during their challenge on Monday last week were: trimming and frenching a rack of lamb, making roast gravy and cooking pommes anna (potatoes).

Test of skill: Jin spooning roast gravy over his lamb dish before serving it to the judges.
In addition, the students were assigned two commis each as kitchen helpers, and had to lead and direct their commis to complete several tasks throughout the challenge, including pre-paring a starter or dessert.

The panel of judges comprised a tasting jury and a production jury. The tasting jury evaluated the students' dishes based on taste, texture, temperature and presentation, while the production jury assessed the students' efforts in the kitchen based on criteria like accuracy of techniques, harmony and volume of food, time management, safety and cleanliness, and guidance of commis.

Besides the internal jud-ges comprising TCHT lecturers, there were external judges who included industry experts like Le Francais Restaurant head chef Jerome Deconinck, Dewina Holdings group executive chef Norafandi Abd Malek, Allegro Italian Restaurant chef Claudio Giovanni, Simplot Malaysia consultant chef Poobalan Suppiah and Hyatt Regency Kuantan executive chef Pari Subrahmaniam.

TCHT Cuisine lecturer and examination chief judge Norrizan Ramudin commented that most of the students in the first group had to improve on their food's presentation and seasoning.

Makings of a good chef: The main ingredients of being a good chef are: having strong product knowledge, choosing the best quality products, and mastering their culinary techniques to make sure the food is well seasoned and well cooked, says Brechet.
“These criteria are something the students are weak in due to poor time management. When they're in a rush, they don't have time to check on the finishing quality.

“They need to be more observant and refer to books to learn how to improve and be more creative, though they have to have their basic techniques.”

“Our programmes are based on the French curriculum because most of Western cuisine is inspired by French techniques, which are then adapted to their local culture,” said TCHT director of studies Fabrice Brechet.

“We provide opportunities for students to do their internship at local and international hotels and restaurants, and the internship programme covers about two to five months of their courses each year.”

TCHT offers various courses in Hospitality and Tourism Management through a partnership with the Academie de Toulouse and University of Toulouse, France.

“The main ingredients of being a good chef are: having strong product knowledge, choosing the best quality products, and mastering their culinary techniques to make sure the food is well seasoned and well cooked,” added Brechet.

Among those in the first group of Genie Culinaire examinations students were Louis Jin Di, Mohammad Fuad Ibrahim and Tey Yee Ling.

“I was very nervous before the exams, but I'm confident that I did better in the finals than the trials last week, in which the meat dish was chicken,” said Tey, 20, from Segamat, Johor.

“Our lecturers advised us to make sure that the food we serve to people is something we want to eat,” said Jin, 25, who hails from China.

More to learn: Babier briefing the students on the judges' feedback after the exam.
Mohammad Fuad's preparations for the examinations included reading cookbooks, going to his chef lecturers for advice, and seeking his seniors' guidance.

“Situations like this teach me how to adapt to a situation on the spot and be creative, and my internship experiences helped,” said the student from Cheras.

Though blind in one eye, the 23-year-old is not hindered by his disability; rather, he is motivated by it.

“My ultimate dream is to have my own business in the food industry, which includes having my own restaurant and catering company.”

Source : STAR
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