Growing up, I have always have a keen interest in watching cooking shows and cooking competitions, and among the personalities I was familiar with on TV, Chef Wan has always stood out as the one true Malaysian hero who tirelessly promote Malaysian cuisine. I mean, there are plenty chefs out there who are good at various types of international food, but how many of them can truly represent Malaysia on the international level?
Well, on the 31st of October, 2015, I got the honor of working with the one and only Chef Wan on the same panel of judges in The Star R.AGE’s first ever Food Fight. It was a bit of a dream came true moment for me, a tick off the bucket list that I never even dared pen in.
R.AGE Food Fight finale, published on 17/11/2015
The article of the finale came out on the newspaper on the 17/11/2015, if you have a copy at hand, do read, otherwise head to http://rage.com.my/foodfight for the articles online.
Over here I just want to jot down the experience I had on the event, just so that I can re-read this space in years to come.
the dishes prepared by the contestants
The competition was fairly straight forward, each contestants had some 15 minutes to present their food and show it to the judges. After that we were served the very same dishes and comment on them.
Judging was based on a mixture of “personality”, taste, and presentation.
The dishes created by the contestants were actually pretty interesting:
Nurilkarim Razha – Baked fish with prawn otak-otak mousseline served with ulam pesto and paku salad
Ahong Yeang – Roasted chicken with coconut gravy, served with a side of ulam rice and long beans and offals
Li-Anne Kuek – Pumpkin & walnut loaf with white chocolate & pumpkin ganache, honeycomb, yogurt sorbet & milk crumb
Kelly Siew – Garlic prawn tart with pineapple and tomato chutney
Ashley Pan – Tuna and watermelon tartare served with basil ice cream
The presentations were very good, and the taste department too mostly quite interesting. My favorite was the blend of local ingredients with modern touch in Nuril’s dish, with Ahong’s chicken in close second. As for the delivery, Ahong was the most entertaining, with Li-Anne sounding most professional, and Nuril being most balanced.
Nuril was crowned as the winner
At the end, after tallying up the score sheet with a bit of final discussions among the judges, Nuril emerged as the first Food Fighter by unanimous decision.
He was basically the “complete package” and the one who did the best on the day overall. I was also happy that a fellow Penangite took the crown as well, and it was well deserved.
what an honor to work alongside my hero in Malaysian cuisine – Chef Wan
It was an interesting experience for me being on a panel with fellow judges whom all have much higher qualifications in doing this than me. Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia master chef Rodolphe Onno was very professional and direct, Chef Tan Chung Liang, a new comer in the scene had proper professional training, Darren Chin, owner of the highly-rated DC Restaurant definitely had a taste for fine foods, and of course, Chef Wan needs no introduction.
After ten years of updating this site, I am going to finally be able to meet my number one most respected food personality in Malaysia – Chef Wan!
To me, there’s no other single person who has contributed more in bringing Malaysian food to the world, I still vividly remember one day many years ago at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City when I switched on the TV and saw a program of Chef Wan being broadcast in a foreign country. Totally awesome, and I would have never thought that one day I may be on the same panel as him in a contest.
I’m going to tell my grandchildren about this one day…
Anyway, this is about The Star R.AGE’s Food Fight, a competition to find the next food celebrity in Malaysia. Winner will get a column in The Star, a featured blog on R.AGE (rage.com.my), an online video series produced by R.AGE TV, culinary workshops by Le Cordon Bleu as well as cash and other prizes.
The competition is as such:
One video submission A cooking segment (max. 3 minutes) where participants prepare a recipe using palm oil, promoted as a “truly Malaysian ingredient”, and mention some of its benefits. Benefits of palm oil will be published on the contest microsite. Judging will focus more on their oncamera personality and presentation skills.
One blogpost An article complete with photos (and any other media, if desired), to be uploaded to a dedicated R.AGE Food Fight page.
5 Finalists will be shorst listed by the judges by 3rd Sept and will then undergo training at Le Cordon Bleu.
On the 26th of September, the finalists will have masterclasses conducted by Chef Wan, Chef Darren Chin, Chef Liang, and yours truly.
The finale will be on Oct 3rd, it’ll be exciting! Can’t wait.
If you haven’t check out the inaugural The Star People’s Food Awards yet, you should. Head to mob.com.my to nominate and vote for the different categories of food every month for a total of 12 months, from June 2014 to May 2015.
I’m honored to be chosen as one of the seven judges for this awards, and last week, five of us met up at Menara Star for a small get-together and had a little chat. The following article is the result from the meet up.
The article is shamelessly reproduced from The Star Online titled “More than just good taste” on the Saturday, 12 July 2014 and written by Kathleen Michael.
Ready to eat and decide: (from left) Wong, Kar-Yeong, Adly, Wan and Yong
are in the line-up of judges for The Star People ’s Food Awards
Since June, The Star in collaboration with Metro Online Broadcast (MOB), a citizen journalism portal, has been calling out to street food lovers to nominate and vote for their favourite street food eatery.
The initiative is to recognise the best Malaysian street food in the Klang Valley, aptly named The Star People’s Food Awards.
Each month, a new street food category is introduced and readers nominate and vote for their favourite category-based street food.
The categories include nasi lemak, chicken rice, roti canai and nasi kandar.
The award was set up to give recognition to restaurant or vendors who continue to excite their clientele’s taste buds.
It also hopes to promote and encourage culinary excellence in street food culture while preserving the country’s food heritage.
The people powered award is not just based on public opinion, as part of the decision is made by an esteemed panel of judges.
There are seven judges who know where to head to for the best of the best, but are able to debate on all things street food.
The judges comprise of blogger at pureglutton.com Chris Wan, food adventurer and blogger at KYspeaks.com Kar-Yeong, PR consultant, writer and blogger at jommakan.blogspot.com Alice Yong, FriedChillies founder Adly Rizal, HungryGoWhere Malaysia managing editor Joyceling Tully, Star2 Features senior editor Julie Wong and StarMetro deputy editor Sam Cheong.
Five of the seven judges sat down with StarMetro to share their opinion about the awards and the state of street food in Malaysia.
Kar-Yeong likes the idea of championing street food because he was of the opinion that the street food culture was slowly dying in the country.
“As long as people are aware of street food and where to have them, it keeps the street food culture alive and I’m glad to be a part of it,” he said.
Out of the 12 categories, the group agreed that they were looking forward to thepopiah and nasi lemak categories.
These judges love their street food so much that when asked, “What’s your favourite street food?”, StarMetro was given the grunt of despair by judges.
“We can’t just pick one. We need the option to select at least three,” Kar-Yeong said.
The judges agreed that roti canai and nasi lemak would stand at the top of the list.
As food critics, there are certain things they will look out for when judging the eateries and their food.
Wan said taste and price mattered when it came to choosing street food.
Wong said her pet peeve was the excessive use of Monosodium glutamate (MSG) by street food vendors while Adly said great street food would depend on the consistency and passion of the cook.
“Good food in Malaysia is easily accessible at a good price. Those who make good street food are the ones who do not put lousy ingredients and are passionate about their food,” he said.
He is against stalls or restaurant that lie to consumers about the food served.
“There are so many who claim they serve Penang char kuey teow (mind you, this dish is number three in his top three list) and then when you try it, it is nothing compared to the real thing,” he said.
These days, it is also common to see foreigners as cooks, dishing up street food.
“The taste changes as they wouldn’t know how it is meant to be,” he added.
For Kar-Yeong, time spent waiting for his food plays a role in determining how he would rate his meals.
“I can tolerate waiting for about 45 minutes, and will probably return to the shop once more,” he said.
Wan and Yong agree that Malaysian culinary students did not take pride in the street food culture.
“They need motivation like the recent win by a Malaysian in Masterchef UK to tell them that Malaysian food is on par with Western cuisine.”
“Otherwise, they take street food for granted,” they said.
They also stressed that there should be classes to encourage Malaysian culinary students on local dishes and not just Western meals.
The judges agreed that besides highlighting locations with great street food, the awards would also help Malaysians find restaurants or vendors who were unknown to the masses.
“I didn’t know about Restaurant Prosperity Bowl and when it was nominated, I tried it and enjoyed their chicken rice,” Yong said.
The judges also agreed that the quality of street food was changing and the awards would hopefully help restore it to its former glory, instead of allowing it to deteriorate.
The public can take part in nominating and voting for the best street food category each month by signing up on mob.com.my
Public nomination for the current best roti canai category is now over and voting will begin on July 15 to midnight of the last day of the month.
The official announcement of the award winner and prize winners will be announced on the first week of the following month.
I was checking comments on the blog as usual last Sunday and came across these two comments:
By chee hong on Oct 5, 2008 | Reply
hey KY , congrats la dude! i saw this blog post in on of the Star’s article this morning ..
By AkiraSabine on Oct 5, 2008 | Reply
Flipping through The Star as usual on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I happened to see a familiar name, KY! haha. “Hey, I read his blog” was my first reaction. Congrats!
I then quickly searched online and sure enough I found this article on the Sunday Star Metro compiled by Renita Che Wah, a name I could not recall.
my post appeared on the Star
The article (full screenshot) is made up of 3 sentences by the journalist, followed by 15 short paragraphs quoted directly from the Pantai Seafood entry I wrote on the 26th of May September.
Obviously I was feeling pretty proud to be noticed by the most read English dailies and have the paper used my blog post heavily in an article, I went out and bought a copy of the paper for save keeping too.
At the same time, however, I do find it a little odd that I was never informed prior to the blog being quoted. No phone call, email, or even a comment left on the blog. Pictures were taken directly from the blog and edited without my knowledge either.
To be fair, a previous blog post of mine on Kampung Atap Curry Fish Head was also used by the Star Metro over a year ago (link here), and the journalist did communicate with me prior to publishing. The difference is, this time around I was kinda caught by surprise.
I think the Star should consider giving me a weekly column instead. What do you make of this?
Kimberly the cun was the cover girl on the Star’s RAGE yesterday. Coincidentally, yours truly was mentioned in the Metro section of the paper the same day in a very good article titled “The changing hawker scene“.
True, Kim has the whole page to her, and I have 3 paragraphs. But hey, I’m keeping the paper cut out nonetheless. (the difference is, Kim has gathered more than 6 copies, I’m keeping only 1, narcissism isn’t necessary)
The article talks about the impact of foreign workers in the local hawker scene, and here are my bites, quoted verbatim from the paper:
Blogger Kar Yeong, or better known as KY, who has gained recognitions among netizens for reviewing a huge array of food and restaurants in his blog http://kyspeaks.com, is among those who prefers food stalls manned by locals.
“Foreigners grew up in their home country and aren’t as accustomed to the local taste, so naturally the flavours might be a bit out of tune when compared to what we like,” he said.
To be fair, according to KY, there are foreign stalls selling tasty non-local food such as the gyoza prepared by the Shanghainese cook at the Ming Tien food court in Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya.