Singapore, April 21 (CNA) Cookery judges were impressed with the culinary expertise of Taiwanese chefs at a contest in Singapore Friday in which an alternative combo of a postpartum diet specialist and cooking instructors beat hotel chefs to take the gold medal at Asia's foremost Chinese banquet competition.
The team, called Tasteforlife Taiwan, led by Kao Mei, creative director of a local postpartum center, won over the judges of the Imperial Challenge cuisine contest by combining authentic Taiwanese ingredients and specialties to create wholesome and nutritious offerings.
Kao, a seasoned chef with 18 years of experience, told CNA she was happy about winning with locally grown produce and ingredients in the international contest that pitted Taiwanese chefs against those from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea.
She said her team spent a year scouring Taiwan for quality ingredients, including pork from the southern county of Yunlin, chicken from Taitung in eastern Taiwan, as well as tuna, shrimp and mullet roe from Pingtung in the south.
The team attempted the challenge of infusing up to three different ingredients in a single dish for the six-course competition that required the chefs to serve dishes in the order dictated in a standard Chinese banquet -- cold dishes before hot, savoury before sweet, and bland followed by strong flavors.
The other team members included Lu Che-wei, an assistant professor of hospitality management from Toko Univeristy, Liu Chun-liang from Tung Der Home Economics and Commerce Vocational High School, and Hung Ting-wei, a graduate student from National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism.
The team's background in postpartum dishes was its biggest asset and not a liability, said the contest's chief judge Huang Ching-piao.
They proved themselves to be culinary mastersdoing what they are good at, creating non-greasy and nutrient-packed dishes, Huang added.
The Imperial Challenge, part of Asia's largest food and hospitality trade show -- Food and Hotel Asia -- takes place every four years and was held April 17-20 this year.
(By Tang Pei-chun and Scully Hsiao)