Monday, August 24, 2009

Taiwan gets unprecedented taste of success at international culinary championship in Taipei

By Nancy T. Lu

Taiwan had a first taste of culinary glory on home ground, finally succeeding in keeping the grand trophy in the international cooking contest during the 2009 Taiwan Culinary Exhibition.

The Chinese Gourmet Association team representing Northern Taiwan upstaged their closest rival from Fuzhou, China in the final round of the competition. The eight groups seeking to be declared the best this year represented China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, the United States, Northern Taiwan and Southern Taiwan.

Lo Chin-han and his winning team members proudly raised their thumbs in a victory gesture when Janice Lai, director general of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, presented a crystal cup to Lo, declaring his group as the overall cooking champion during an awarding ceremony at the Taipei World Trade Center on Sunday, August 23.

“This year’s eight teams turned out to be stronger than those in 2007,” remarked Dr. Chuck Yim Gee, a veteran judge of culinary competitions and the chairman of the jury panel this time. “The judges were all looking for something new and exciting. The teams created new Chinese cuisine, earning our admiration.”

He explained that judging was first carried out the traditional way. And then the jury voted anonymously, indicating their strong personal choices.

Chefs Lo Chin-han, Chen Chao-feng, Kang Chih-wei, Huang Chung-loung and Wen Kuo-chih of the champion team had to prepare appetizers, a soup, a giant grouper dish, an Yilan duck recipe, a livestock main course and a dessert all under strict time constraint. The food ingredients which must be used were announced only at the last minute. There was no time to practice. They ended up turning to the home-cooking of their mothers for inspiration.

The cash prize given out this year was NT$300,000. But even before the announcement of the big winner, Lo from the triumphant team already offered to generously donate NT$150,000 to the victims of the typhoon Morakot disaster. Uniforms with autographs of the chefs from the different teams were earlier auctioned as part of the fund-raising drive to benefit the typhoon victims.

The Fuzhou Juchuyuan Group in China, the Super Star Group of the Asian Chefs Association in Hong Kong, the Society of Chinese Cuisine Chefs in Singapore, the Master Chefs of Kyoto in Japan, the Pan Malaysian Koo Soo Restaurants Chefs Association, the Pariss Seafood Restaurant Jhubei representing Southern Taiwan and the Chinese Gourmet Association fielding the chefs from Northern Taiwan all contributed to the putting of Taiwan on the international culinary map.

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