Fight to stay a cut above the rest
The third round of the Towngas Young Master Chef cooking contest was held on Wednesday. Daytime TV cooking show tutor Annie Wong taught the contestants how to make a traditional cha chaan teng dish, fried rice with salted fish and diced chicken.
The contestants did their best to mimic Wong's dish in terms of the appearance, aroma and taste, the three most important elements in Chinese cooking. The cook-off was a close call, and out of the 22 individuals and teams, only 20 would stay.
Let's see how Round Three went ...
Two heads better than one
Contestants could enter the contest as an individual or a pair. Sally Sze Lok-yee and Loro Kun Lok-yiu teamed up and were the second fastest team in this round.
They say the secret is the equal distribution of work. 'Sally is a more experienced chef, so she leads, and guides me,' Loro says. Their strategy was to have one person responsible for chopping, while the other marinated the chicken. Sally believes that working as a team gives them an advantage. 'If I were working alone, I would definitely panic,' she says. 'But with my teammate by my side, the cooking process becomes easier and more efficient.'
Another key to their success is good communication. They had a disagreement while they were cooking, but managed to solve the problem and complete the task.
Creativity sought in simple dish
In this round, contestants scratched their head to find ways to make their dish stand out.
'Everyone is doing the same, standardised dish,' contestant Enoch Chan Tsz-him says. 'I have to think of something different,' he says.
Enoch first moulded his fried rice in a rounded bowl. Then, he flipped over the bowl and let his hemisphere-shaped rice land on the plate.
Contestant Nicole Marie de Witt also managed to display her creativity in this simple dish; she did something similar to Enoch, but to make her dish more appealing, she sprinkled finely diced ham on top of the dish as a garnish.
'I often watch TV programmes and read magazines about food decoration,' Nicole says. 'That's where I get my inspiration from.'
The cheflings are all brilliant cooks, but unfortunately, someone has to go. The Towngas Young Master Chef journey for these two contestants ends here.
Name: Lai Tat-ching
Lessons learned: how to adjust to the fast-paced beat of cooking competitions; the importance of having a clear mind before, and during, cooking
Message to contestants: Stay calm and remain confident
Name: Kong Tak-yan
Lesson learned: how to cook alone under pressure, time management in cooking, chopping skills
Message to contestants: Keep it up, and good luck!
Tutor: Annie Wong
Kitchen experience: 20+ years of cooking experience, host of TVB's daytime cooking show for 19 years, author of several cook books
Speciality: tutoring in all styles, but mainly Chinese
Comments: Wong picked this dish because it is handy, healthy and nutritious. But a simple dish does put the contestants' cooking skills to the test; every little detail - wetness of the rice, taste, colour, and aroma - matters.
Advice: Contestants should remain confident. They should try to pay attention to the quality of food they eat, spend more time in wet markets, and learn about different ingredients. Annie hopes the competition will encourage contestants' interest in healthy cooking, and in the long term, change their habit of eating junk food.
1st: Cooking trip to Le Cordon Bleu, flown to Paris by Air France
2nd: Cooking trip to Beijing
3rd: Cooking lessons at Hong Kong's Michelin-starred restaurant, Cuisine Cuisine
Next week, the contestants will be back for yet another challenge, and another two chefs will be eliminated.
Stay tuned to the feeds on our Facebook and twitter, @youngposthk, next Wednesday from 10am to 1pm for instant updates and photos. Check out next Friday's Young Post for the full story.