Hotel Asia International Culinary Challenge kicks off

culinary challenge 18 septHotel Asia International Culinary Challenge began today, at 0900 at Dharubaaruge. The event, now in its 11th year, is chiefly sponsored by Bestbuy Maldives (BBM) and organized by Maldives Exhibition and Conference Services (MECS). This year’s event has attracted over 400 participants to its various competitions.

Today’s competitions will feature over 90 chefs from various nationalities and representing several major hotels and resorts in the Maldives. The inaugural cook off, held in a special tent in the grounds of Dharubaaruge, started with a hot cooking contest where participants prepared lamb for the judges. The judges – award winning chefs and WACS certified professionals from the culinary world – commented on their taste and presentation, with participants making careful note of their comments.

On the panel of judges today was Tarek Ibrahim, a celebrity chef and the first Master-chef from the Arab world to be certified by WACS. “Competitors are a bit tense, because it’s the early stages,” he said. “With time they will start relaxing, and when they do they’ll start producing better dishes.” Despite this, he noted the high standards of competitors and remarked on the great quality of the products available for participants at the competition, the majority of which is supplied by BBM.

Chief Judge Alan Palmer revealed what judges will be looking for from competitors in the hot cooking contest. “What we really want is to see their skill,” he said. “We want to see how they work, which we can closely observe because of the kitchen setup. We also want to know how the final product tastes and of course how it is presented. Competitors will have to bear these in mind.”

On behalf of the organisers, CEO of Lanka Exhibition and Conference Services (LECS) Aasim Mukthar said that they were very happy with the organisation of the event. “There were no delays, we managed to start right on the dot at 9am today,” he said. He was very grateful for BBM’s assistance noting that they had been supportive throughout.

On behalf of the main sponsor BBM, CEO Mohamed Mazloom said: “We believe these experiences are crucial to enhance our industry to be in line with the best in the world.”

On part of the participants, Ibrahim Naeem, a Maldivian chef from Hulhule Island Hotel (HIH), said: “The competition has so far been very good. We’re also getting very good input from the judges, it’s great that they’re able to debrief us so quickly after the dishes are prepared.”

Two more categories for competing are scheduled for today; “Creative Asian Dish” and “Dress the Cake”, where contestants are able to display their creativity and flair to impress the judges. Today’s competition is set to conclude at 1700hrs.

The Culinary Challenge will end on 21 September and offers several awards to top performing candidates.