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Derek Loh Zhengwen impressed many with his three gold-medal win.

Enthusiasm and adrenaline were at an all-time high as the 42-member team from Taylor’s University raced against time and beat all odds to rightfully claim the Most Outstanding Team in Catering Service title at the Culinaire Malaysia 2011, the nation’s highly anticipated and most prominent culinary challenge.

Beating over 600 local and international hotels, restaurants and education institutions to emerge as the top winners, the team from Taylor’s University School of Hospitality, Tourism & Culinary Arts (TCHT) won an impressive 6 Gold, 13 Silver and 10 Bronze medals, en route to a clean sweep of the “Excellence Awards” in the Food & Beverage section – the first time that such a feat has been achieved in the competition.

Derek Loh Zhengwen was the star of the competition as he grabbed the notable Best F&B Personnel title and RM 3,000 cash prize with his remarkable medal-haul of 3 Gold and 1 Silver. A final year student from the Bachelor in Hospitality and Tourism Management programme, Derek won a Gold medal each in the Mocktail, Cocktail and Table Setting categories and dominated the Excellence Award in both the Mocktail and Cocktail categories. He also took home the Silver medal in the Fruit Flambé category.

“I am very excited with the win! Competing with industry professionals was a great eye opening experience, but to beat them in the competition was awesome!” said an ecstatic Derek.

He admitted that the one-month training for him and his fellow students was a challenging experience. “We had sleepless nights practicing and fine tuning our technical skills for the competition! I am very happy that our hard work and efforts paid off. I have my lecturers, family and friends to thank for what I have achieved at this competition,” he said.

Students Isaac Yap Chee Chie and Julian Tan Kang Peng also swept both Gold medals and Excellence Award for the Fruit Flambé and Table Setting categories respectively.

Chef Diana Cornwell was Taylor’s sole gold medallist in the kitchen as she won the Gold in the Meat/Poultry Main Course category. A lecturer who just joined Taylor’s University, Chef Diana was overjoyed with the win.

“I did not expect much from the competition, but the team spirit and support I received from TCHT colleagues and students were a great boost to help me win the gold,” said Chef Diana, who is of Thai origin.

Another notable win came from Nigel Loon Chern Kit, who won the Best Signature Drink in the Barista Challenge with his coffee named Revised Classic Tiramisu.

“I was working as a barista before enrolling into Taylor’s University and I hadn’t touched the coffee machine for about a year before going into training for the Culinaire Malaysia two months ago! Hence I am very surprised with the win especially when most of the competitors are veterans or professional baristas.”

“The win has pushed me to further develop my interests and skills in coffee-making,” said Nigel, who is a second year Diploma in Hospitality Management student at TCHT.

Taylor’s University students and staff sent in their cheers and support to the Culinaire team throughout the gruelling four-day competition via the University’s official Twitter and Facebook page.

Dean of TCHT, Mr. Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan, congratulated the team for its success in grabbing the highly sought-after title of Most Outstanding Team in Catering Service at Culinaire Malaysia 2011.

“I congratulate and thank the team who helped in adding this win to TCHT’s milestone achievement. This win has sweetened TCHT’s 25th anniversary celebration and made it more meaningful as we look forward to more notable achievements in the future. This is definitely only the beginning of more to come!” said Mr. Neethia.

Full list of categories won and medal recipients from Taylor’s University School of Hospitality, Tourism & Culinary Arts (TCHT):

Most Outstanding Team in Catering Services
Taylor’s University

Most Outstanding F&B Personnel & RM3, 000 cash prize
Derek Loh Zhengwen

Excellence Award in:
1. Table Setting – Julian Tan Kang Peng
2. Mocktail – Derek Loh Zhengwen
3. Cocktail – Derek Loh Zhengwen
4. Fruit Flambé – Isaac Yap Chee Chie

Gold Medals:
1. Meat/Poultry Main Course – Chef Diana Cornwell
2. Table Setting – Julian Tan Kang Peng
3. Table Setting – Derek Loh Zhengwen
4. Fruit Flambé – Isaac Yap Chee Chie
5. Mocktail – Derek Loh Zhengwen
6. Cocktail – Derek Loh Zhengwen

Silver Medals:
1. Fruit Flambé – Derek Loh Zhengwen
2. Plated Appetisers – Chef Vincent Pang
3. 4-Course Set Menu – Aaron Tang Kok Keong
4. Apprentice Chicken/Salmon Main Course – Foong Hin Lek
5. Dress the Cake – Valerie Pang Sherleen
6. 5-Course Set Menu – Khairil Anwar Ahmad
7. Mocktail – Karen Yuen Wei Teng
8. Cocktail – Jevon Lim XimFung
9. Fish & Seafood Main Course – Chef Frederic Cerchi
10. Fish & Seafood Main Course – Low Wen Liang
11. Selection of Tapas – Chef Massyittah Omar
12. Nyonya Heritage – Team Bunga Kantan comprising of Chef Massyittah Omar, Chef Mohd. Zamri Idris, Beh Pei Yi and Yoong Yuin Yuin
13. Crystal Ice Masterpiece – Team Icy Cool comprising of Chef Faizul Rizal Mt. Akhir and Chef Mohamad Shahrir Haron

Bronze Medals:
1. Plated Appetisers – Chef Abdul Mudzzamir Abdullah Shan
2. 4-Course Set Menu – Foo Ee Lynn
3. 4-Course Set Menu – Aileen Chin Yih Fang
4. Meat/Poultry Main Course – Chef Abdul Halim Tumin
5. Stylist Buffet Showpiece – Chef Mohamad Sharir Haron
6. Apprentice Chicken/Salmon Main Course – Aaron Tang Kok Keong
7. Apprentice Chicken/Salmon Main Course – Foo Ee Lynn
8. Fish/Seafood Main Course – Chef Shahrizan Azali Mohamed Zamzuri
9. Dress the Cake – Mah Weng Sang
10. Dream Team Challenge – Team Les Gastronomes comprising of Lum Kit Yee, Justin Ho and Thirushaan Gunasakaran.

Best Signature Drink in Barista Challenge
Nigel Loon Chern Kit

About Culinaire Malaysia

Organised by the Malaysian Association of Hotels, Chefs Association of Malaysia and The Malaysian Food & Beverage Executives Association, Culinaire Malaysia is the region’s largest culinary competition and is held in conjunction with the Food & Hotel Malaysia Exhibition (FHM). Culinaire Malaysia aims to set a higher benchmark on the culinary standards in the Malaysian hospitality industry, and to recognize and motivate individual chefs who excel in their field of culinary arts that match world standards.

Held on a bi-annual basis, this year’s Culinaire Malaysia was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from 20th to 23rd September and attracted over 1,500 participating entries from around Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Germany, Mexico and many more countries.

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Chef Abdul Halim Tumin (left) and Chef Diana Cornwell (right) show off their bronze and gold medals which they won at the Meat/Poultry Main Course category.

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Isaac Yap Chee Chie posing with his winning Fruit Flambé creation named “Smile of Gui Fei”.

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Julian Tan Kang Peng won a Gold plus an Excellence Award in the Table Setting category.

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Team Taylor’s University is the proud recipient of the “Most Outstanding Team” in Catering Services and five other awards.