Taipei, June 22 (CNA) A Taiwanese youth who won a gold medal at the International Food Fair-Korea in early May drew on his experience to push the importance of vocational education Thursday.
Hsieh Huang-kai, a student in the Department of Tourism and Hospitality at Yunlin County-based TransWorld University, gained prominence when he won a gold medal in the junior division of the fruit and vegetable carving competition at the fair in Daejeon, held May 1 to 5.
Speaking at a Ministry of Education news conference promoting vocational education, Hsieh said he was inspired to take up food carving after seeing the creations of chef Ke Ming-Tsung while studying at a vocational high school.
Hsieh was so captivated by the art that during his first week at TransWorld University, he asked the school to offer a food carving class, and the university invited Ke to be a guest lecturer.
Ke quickly became a mentor to Hsieh but his classes gained such popularity that the university formally hired him to teach there, and he has since helped nurture other young talent as well, the university said.
Hsieh, who will graduate from TransWorld in 2013, has entered many fruit and vegetable carving competitions during his time at the university and won medals in several of them.
He has also adapted the fruit-carving skills he learned to carve handmade soap and has received many orders for his creative products, the school said.
Hsieh said the keys to good carving include thinking of suitable designs for each object to be carved, and being extremely precise and staying focused when executing them.
As a result, he said, it can take several days to complete a single carving, such as the dancing phoenix he created out of a taro.
Now preparing for the International Culinary Exhibition competition, known as the "Culinary Olympics," to be held in Erfurt, Germany in October, Hsieh said he is interested in both fruit carving and baking and hopes to develop in these fields in the future.
(By Hsu Chih-wei and I-Ling Chen)