The IKA Culinary Olympics have come and gone for another four years now and new champions have been crowned.
There were suprices, although those teams that stood atop of the podium will declare, "Not at all! All things are as they should be."
This is now the 5th Edition of the Champchef Archive, and, as always, our features are a mix of current events and stories of achievements from days gone – yet a similar story is told.
In 1986 I was in Singapore with the Candian team to compete in the Food & Hotel Asia Culinary Salon. Our host was Otto Weibel, Chef of the Westin Stamford Plaza Hotel.
As with all salons, there is always the pomp and ceremony that accompanies the opening ceremonies and the final night of the awards when the national teams are led into the great halls preceded by the bannerbearers holding national flags aloft.
Fast 22 years to present time...
While seeking details on the members of the national teams that competed in Erfurt, I made contact with Jasime Ng, the manager of the Singapore National Team.
During the exchange of many emails, I made mention of my 1986 visit to Singapre. It turns out she had been selected to be a bannerbearer at the ceremonies.
Her email recounts that, "it was at that moment when I was carrying the flag that I knew that one day I wanted to be a great chef and respresent my country."
Well Jasmine, you did it – and in spades, leading the Singapore Team to a stellar 4th place finish.
Many grand things seemed to have occured 20 years ago.
While gethering information on the Malaysian team that competed in the 2nd Salon Culinaire Mondial 1987 in Basel, Switzerland, I had to wonder about the team's 1st place finish in the Restaurant of Nations.
I had travelled to Basel to observe the competition and I was aware of their surprising victory, however, try as I may, I could not recall details of their menu
Not to be denied, I contacted Terence Lim in Kuala Lumpur. Terence was a member of the Malaysian National Team at the time and was Sous Chef at the Holiday Inn on the Park.
Here is the menu as Terence told me:
How does Prawn Roll a la Sungai Besi grab you? What about Chicken Breast a la Malacca?
That highlights the taste of traditional pang gang barbeque. The difference is the chicken is stuffed with gula melake and coconutflavored pulut rice. It is then pan fried and saddled in peanut sauce. Finish this off with a Malaysian Banana Terrine and you are in heaven, wearing a gold metal!
What I find remarkable is that this occured in Basel, one of the Eurocentric bastions of classical cuisine and home to the Rösti. Or did that potato pancake originate in Berne? (Let's leave that one alone!) It would seem to that, in this instance, East met West in Switzerland – well before California got on the bandwagon.