Food Face-off1 Jul 2011
Penang makes an ideal battleground for the Battle of the Chefs as the island is a famous foodies’ paradise, world renowned for its mouth-watering street food, local delicacies complemented by the wide, varied origins of her culinary landscape.
The 13th Penang International Salon Gastronomique, better known as Battle of the Chefs was held at Straits Quay on June 3–5. This biennial event is supported by the State Government of Penang and endorsed by the World Association of Chefs Societies, and had a record entry of over 800 eager chefs and students from around the world, competing in over 35 classes of events. This year saw a big increase in students’ entries from community colleges, catering colleges and universities; a sign that the young, up and coming talent would be turning up the heat in this competition.
A new venue this year; the Convention Centre at Straits Quay proved to be a very successful and fantastic location. With plenty of car parking, lots of space to walk and enjoy and easy access for visitors, this venue is sure to appeal to many event organisers in the future. Competitions like the Battle of the Chefs play a vital role in educating and motivating those who choose the hospitality business for their careers. The chefs competing must continually raise their standards in their efforts to win.
Several new categories have been added to the competition this year. Four of these were in association with the Malaysian Association of Hotels, Penang Chapter; Lamian Competition (noodle pulling), Lighthouse Coffee battle of the Barista Championship; Professional Bed-Making competition and Evian Waiter’s Race. The idea behind these categories was to see participation of hotel personnel from other departments besides the chefs.
Also the Organising Committee has included a very traditional ‘Ketupat & Rendang’ competition with the intention of unearthing talents to be showcased and to inculcate a love for local traditional dishes, especially amongst the budding young chefs.
I spent Sunday judging the “Flair King Bartender’s Competition”, drinking cocktails from 11am to 4pm. Well it’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday! This event, they put the “Flair” back into the competition, which makes it much, more interesting and exciting. The winner was Mohd Ellias Bin Husin from Finnegan’s Pub in Straits Quay. So if you are looking for cocktails ala Tom Cruise, well you know where to go. Since my first ‘Battle” in 2007, I see the standards and numbers rising at each event.
During this event, I chatted with two charming young chefs who travelled all the way from Russia to take part in this competition. They worked in a hotel kitchen for seven days in exchange for rooms. They entered nine classes and left with nine medals between them (gold, silver and bronze) I found them very passionate about their work. They formed good relationships with the panel of international judges and the chefs association and I have no doubt these two young men will one day come back and work in top hotels in Asia.
At the prize giving after three days of fierce competition 39 Gold medals, 141 Silver medals, 305 Bronze medals and 269 Diplomas were presented to the successful competitors. The countries in Asia that featured high in medal tables were Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan.
The thousands of visitors who took time to watch the battles over the weekend were well rewarded with the skills of the competitors, the dazzling ice sculptures, brilliant showmanship of over 800 competitors and had their taste buds tantalised by all the food and drinks. The Evian Waiters race along the promenade also provided a more familiar race for those who enjoy the outdoor water side of this venue.
The Andaman, Langkawi
Silver for Main Course (Meat) & Silver for Plated Dish
The Andaman in Datai Bay, Langkawi is a luxurious getaway that’s located among a tranquil rainforest between the Mat Cincang Mountain Range and facing the Andaman Sea. Three distinctive, yet equally alluring, albeit rather unoriginally named restaurants; The Restaurant, The Japanese Restaurant and Barbeque Terrace along with the Jentayu Lounge and Beach Bar, offer a variety of local specialties and international favourites.
Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi.
Tel: 04–9591 088
Dragon 9ine, Penang
Silver for Modern Asian Cuisine Restaurant
Describing itself as “the ultimate Chinese dining experience” this is the place to go if you want to savour some authentic Asian cuisine.
Bellisa Row, Pulau Tikus, Penang.
Tel: 04–2294 099
E&O Hotel, Penang
Gold for Main Course (Meat) & Silver for Char Koay Teow
A tantalising medley of flavours and aromas await guests in the hotel’s restaurants, cafés and bars, each with its own unique aura. The Hotel has two restaurants, 24 hour room service plus a bar menu. Their 1885 restaurant is one of the finest on the island and Sarkies Corner, a colonial coffee shop that offers a wide selection of delicious local and international fare where you can check out their award winning Char Koay Teow.
10 Lebuh Farquhar, Penang.
Tel: 04–2222 000
Finnegan’s Irish Pub, Straits Quay, Penang
Best Bartender for Cocktails
Finnegan’s Irish Pub and restaurant has a warm and friendly atmosphere, overlooking the marina at Straits Quay it has alfresco waterfront seating so you can sip awarding-winning cocktails while watching the sun go down.
3E–G–1,Straits Quay, Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
Tel: 04–8992 788
Grand Dorsett Hotel, Subang Jaya
Gold for Main Course (Meat) & Bronze for Main Course (Meat & Seafood)
Indulge in various mouth-watering cuisines at their award-winning restaurants. The culinary team skillfully caters assorted cuisine to suit your palate. Try the Terazza Brasserie for various buffet spreads, or Café Aroma, a continental style café which specialises in delicatessen and patisserie style food and beverage for tea time or you can spend quality moments with family and friends on either a weekday or a weekend. Try the Emperor Chinese restaurant which offers a wide dim sum selection and more than 100 varieties of a la carte dishes. Miyako Japanese Restaurant on the other hand gives a whole new meaning to Japanese Cuisine with its cozy interior.
Jalan SS12/1, Subang Jaya.
Tel: 03–5031 6060
Holiday Inn Resort, Penang
Silver for Roti Canai
The Holiday Inn Resort is one of the hottest beach hotels in Penang, but is more famous for its mouthwatering Indian cuisine. So it was no surprise that it took Silver for its Roti Canai.
75 Batu Ferringhi, Penang.
Tel: 04–8811 601
InterContinental Hotel, KL
Bronze medal for Main Course Seafood Dishes
The award-winning InterContinental Kuala Lumpur (formerly known as Hotel Nikko Kuala Lumpur) boasts 468 spacious and well-furnished guestrooms. For food connoisseurs, the hotel offers authentic Japanese cuisine in the Benkay Japanese Restaurant, fine Cantonese and Sichuan specialties in the Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant and international as well as local fare in the Café Serena Brasserie. For relaxation and entertainment, there’s the Lobby Lounge and Bentley’s Pub.
165, Jalan Ampang, KL.
Tel: 03–2161 1111
Paradise Sandy Bay Beach Resort, Penang
Nestle Overall Best Chef
Located in the heart of Tanjung Bungah with one of the best beaches in Penang, makes this an enjoyable place to dine alfresco on Asian and Western cuisine on the terrace overlooking the sea and enjoy cocktails.
527 Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
Tel: 04–8999 999
Gold for Best Modern Restaurant
This luxury hotel presents a range of fine restaurants, incomparable service and subdued elegance that evokes comfort, peace and relaxation. Step into the Palm Hill Café, or out onto the Palm Hill veranda to sample Malaysian and international cuisine at any time of the day, or enjoy a romantic dinner at the Azur Restaurant & Bistro. I chatted with the team that won Gold and they were so friendly, happy and full of enthusiasm and energy. I have no doubt that dinning at Putrajaya Shangri-La will make for a memorable experience.
Taman Putra Perdana, Presint 1, Putrajaya.
Tel: 03–8887 8888
Renaissance Melaka Hotel
Bronze for Modern Western Cuisine Restaurant
Malacca is famous for its food. With generations of Portuguese and Peranakan influences, the local culinary scene is brimming with delectable flavours and nowhere else is this more evident than at the Renaissance Melaka Hotel. Capers is an elegant East meets West concept restaurant, while exquisite Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine is served at the Long Feng Chinese Restaurant. For all day dining, the Summerfields Coffee House has an extensive menu to satisfy all appetites from oriental to continental cuisine.
Jalan Bendahara, Melaka.
Tel: 06–2848 888