Battle of Chefs a Penang Signature Event
by Maggie T

Penang is indeed the ideal "Battleground" for the 'Battle of Chefs" as Penang is a famous foodies paradise, world renowned for its street food, mouth-watering local delicacies and the wide and varied origins of the Penang culinary landscape.

The 13th Penang International Salon Gastronomique, better known as "Battle of Chefs" was held at Straits Quay on 3 5 June 2011. 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 is turning up the heat in this competition.

A new venue this year; the Convention Centre at Straits Quay, Penang, proved to be 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 form their careers. The Chefs competing must continually raise their standards in their efforts to win.

Its a great opportunity for Chefs and students to showcase their talents by putting their skills and experience to the test in a competitive format. It is also a learning opportunity; by checking out what other Chefs are creating, getting updates on food trends and taking on board the critiques and informative advice and feedback from the international panel of judges. I had the fortunate opportunity to sit in and listen to a panel of judges giving their critique on plated dishes in the "Modern Western Class". It was very interesting to hear their views and I learned a lot from their advice.

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 competitions was to see participations of hotel personnel from other departments besides the chefs.

Also the Organising Committee has included Penang's 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 11:00 am to 4:00 pm 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, Tom Cruise style, well you know where to go.

It is a pleasure and an honor to be invited by the Chefs Association to be part of the international panel of judges for the third "Battle of Chefs", and to witness firsthand the crème de la crème of Chefs and the up and coming talent from colleges around the world. This competition fosters great relationships between judges, chefs and students and I feel very privileged to be part of it. 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 in Penang for seven days in exchange for rooms. They entered 9 classes and left with 9 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 24 Gold medals, 112 Silver medals, 238 Bronze medals and 269 Diploma were presented to the successful competitors. The countries in Asia that featured high in medal tables were Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan.

In addition to the competitions there was 35 exhibition booths promoting food ingredients and services with more than 6,000 industry players and visitors attending the event.

The thousands of visitors who took time to see the Battles over the weekend were well rewarded, the skills of the competitors, the dazzling ice sculptures, the brilliant showmanship of over 800 competitors and had their taste buds tantalized by all the food and drinks. The Evian waiters race along the promenade also provided a more familiar race to those enjoying the outdoor water side of this venue.

At about 5pm, with the sun burning low and in the evening sky, pink and orange clouds billowing in the west, the backdrop of the Andaman Sea, beautiful boats docked in the marina, the café and restaurants packed, the boardwalk busy with strollers and scampering children, well is was a wonderful promotion for Penang, and an enjoyable week end for anyone who attended.

Some Winners from around Malaysia:

Finnegans Irish Pub in Straits Quay, Penang
- best Bartender for Cocktails

Finnegans Irish Pub and restaurant has a warm and friendly atmosphere, overlooking the marina at Straits Quay it has al fresco waterfront seating so you can sip awarding winning cocktails while watching the sun go down.

E&O Hotel, Penang
- Gold for Main Course meat & Silver for Char Koay Teow

The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a tranquil haven in the heart of Penang. This is a hotel with old colonial charm and the finest traditions of comfort and service.

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 in Penang and Ssarkies Corner a colonial coffee shop that offers a wide selection of delicious local and international fare. Now you can check out their Char Koay Teow.

Holiday Inn Resort, Penang
- Silver medal for Roti Canai

The Holiday Inn Resort is one of the hottest beach hotels in Penang, this hotel is most famous for its mouth watering Indian food. So it was no surprise that it took Silver for its Roti Canai.

Putratrajaya Shangri La
- Gold medal for Best Modern Restaurant

This luxury Putrajaya 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 day, or enjoy a romantic dinner at the Azur restaurant & Bistro.

I chatted to 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 be a memorable experience.

Paradise Sandy Bay Beach Resort
- Nestle Overall Best Chef

Paradise Sandy Bay Resort located in the heart of Tanjung Bungah and has one of the best beaches in Penang. Enjoy Asian and Western cuisine and a perfect place to dine al fresco on the terrace overlooking the sea and enjoy cocktails

Renaissance Melaka Hotel
- Bronze medal for Modern Western Cuisine Restaurant

This Renaissance Melaka Hotel is the first Renaissance hotel in Asia, situated in the heart of the historical city of Melaka, blending old-world charm with modern luxuries and attentive business services. 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.

The Andaman Resort, Langkawi
- Silver for Main Course Meat Dishes and 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. The natural landscape and pristine environment promise to bring guest on an ultimate journey of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Three distinctive yet equally alluring restaurants, along with our Jentayu Lounge and Beach Bar, offer a variety of local specialties and International favourites.

Intercontinental Hotel. K. L.
- Bronze medal for Main Course Seafood Dishes

The award-winning InterContinental Kuala Lumpur (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.

Truffles Steak House Restaurant, Selangor
- Silver for for Main Course Meat.

Grand Dorsett Hotel Subang Jaya
- Gold for Main Course Meat & Bronze for both Main Course 1 & 2 Meat & Seafood

For dinning indulge in various mouth-watering cuisines at our award-winning restaurants. Our culinary team skillfully caters assorted cuisines to suit your palate.

Try the Terazza Brasserie for various buffet spreads, or Café Aroma, our continental style café which specializes 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.

For an Asian dining experience, 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.
Dragon 9ine Penang -Silver for Modern Asian Cuisine Restaurant
If looking for authentic Asian Cuisine then check out Dragon 9ine at Bellisa Row, Pulau Tikus, serving Chinese food.

About Battle of the Chefs - from Chefs Association

The inaugural "Battle of the Chefs" was held in July 1988 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Penang. It started with the participants of only 60 chefs from the most hotels in Penang. Judges were sourced locally. At the end of the competition, 8 Gold, 26 Silver and 16 Bronze were awarded.

Despite their humble beginning, this biennial event witnessed a dramatic jump in the number of participants when it was held in 1990. A total of 165 chefs "gladiators" congregated in the Geodesic Dome of Komtar to pit their skills and culinary wizardry for honor and fame. The competitors had taken 24 Gold, 32 Silver and 43 Bronze medals. The younger chefs were the ones who walked away with the most number of golds!

When it came to the 3rd "Battle of the Chefs" held in 1991, the number of participants again jumped to 198 and 21 Gold, 55 Silver and 58 Bronze medals were awarded. A testimony to improvement and increased awarenessof the event itself and all the hard work paid off.
A great turning point came about when the 4th "Battle of the Chefs" held in June 1993. The World Association of Cooks Societies, State Government of Penang, among many other associations and bodies extended their endorsement to the event. Eventually, the "Battle of the Chefs" has taken a new identity - Penang International Salon Gastronomique.

The 5th and 6th Penang International Salon Gastronomique set a record of 278 participating chefs from all over the Asian region, reflecting the enthusiasm among the regional culinary circle. With this influx of culinary professionals from neighbouring nations the standard of the competition can only reach a higher level.

The 7th Penang International Salon Gastronomique again achieved 3 "first"s.
1. The event being moved to the premier venue for events and exhibitions - Penang International Sports Arena (PISA);
2. The incorporations of Sajian 99, the brainchild of YB Dato Kee Phaik Cheen, the Hons. Advisor to CAM Penang Chapter. The Sajian is an expo for exhibition of traders related to the Food and Beverage industries. It provides excellent opportunities for the Hospitality industry and related businesses to showcase their products and services;
3. The other first being the introduction of Live Hot Cooking Competition, upon the overwhelming demand from the contestant! In all, 15 Gold, 58 Silver and 87 Bronze medals were awarded.

As for the 8th and 9th Penang International Salon Gastronomique, the combined number of competitors from the Live Hot Cooking exceeded 115, beyond our wildest expectations, so much so that it has to be held throughout the 3 days and at separate sessions! This salon sees a record of 300 eager chefs "gladiators" competing in a total of over 500 classes of competition.

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