In a spotless kitchen at the Hotel Industry Training Centre in Pokfulam, six budding chefs are dressed in white, cooking their best to see who among them has the essential ingredients for success. The stakes are high: a ticket to Montreal to represent Hong Kong in next year's International Youth Skill Olympics. They bow their heads in concentration. Into the pots goes chicken. Chopped carrots, peas, potatoes. Creamy sauce and gravy. Herbs. As the steam rises in the centre's kitchen, judges and the media crowd around them. After defeating 13 young contestants in the first round, they have entered the final round in the Western cookery category of the second Hong Kong Youth Skill Competition. They have to prepare an appetiser, soup, main course and dessert. Cheung Wai-shing, 20, of Hong Kong Bankers' Club, is equally adept at Chinese and Western cuisine. 'It's a tough contest as the participants seem to be very good. I'll try my best not to disappoint my family and colleagues,' he said. His menu comprises shrimp cocktail with avocado, minestrone soup, poached fillet of salmon with herb cream sauce, mashed potatoes with sauteed onions, sauteed zucchini, and kiwi pancake with strawberry sauce. But Mr Cheung's speciality is soup. 'I like to add a bit of flour to make it creamier,' he said. Lo Kar-chun, from the Ritz Carlton, is excited about making it to the final round. 'I do not expect to win any award. I only joined the contest to broaden my cooking skills,' he said. 'I like Western cookery because there's more room for creativity and you can experiment with wider combinations of ingredients.' His menu included steamed salmon fillet with bell pepper sauce. After a technical panel and a tasting panel have examined and tasted their dishes, Ng Chun-yin from the Peninsula takes the champion's honours. Mr Cheung and Mr Lo win the first and second runner-up prizes respectively. Peter Lo han-fai, principal instructor at the training centre and one of the judges in the technical panel, said the dishes were graded for hygiene, cleanliness, preparation, time control and organisation. The other panel focused on quality, taste and presentation. The winning chefs will head to Montreal next year to represent the SAR in the international contest. Jointly organised by the Vocational Training Council, Clothing Industry Training Authority, Construction Industry Training Authority and the Industrial Centre and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the contest was divided into 19 categories, ranging from information technology to cookery. Hong Kong participated for the first time in the contest in Switzerland last year and won three bronze medals in information technology, jewellery, and ladies' dressmaking. Four participants earned diplomas in automobile technology, commercial wiring, cookery, and industrial electronics.