SINGAPORE - Singapore's national culinary team came home to a warm reception on Friday (Oct 28) morning at Changi Airport, two days after being crowned champions for the first time at the Culinary Olympics.
About 80 cheering supporters, including Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, welcomed the chefs.
The Singapore team was led by Swissotel Merchant Court's executive chef Louis Tay and captain Teo Yeow Siang of catering company Lavish Dine Catering. The team members are chefs Triston Fang of Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora at Resorts World Sentosa, Alan Wong of Lavish Dine Catering, Roy Lim of global food service provider Unilever Food Solutions, and pastry chef Alex Chong of The Regent Singapore.
They beat 29 other teams to be the only Asian country to win two gold awards, in the Cold Display and Hot Cooking categories.
Held in Erfurt, Germany once every four years, the culinary competition is one of the most prestigious in the world. This year, it took place from Oct 21 to 26.
Chef Tay, 51, said: "It has been a very intense period for us as a culinary competition of this level is both emotionally and physically intense. The team has sacrificed a lot of time and sleep."
Indeed, the competition is a gruelling test of perfection in technique and creativity.
The cold display features an exhibition table including finger foods, plated desserts and chocolates. For the hot cooking segment, the chefs have to prepare 110 portions of a three-course meal.
Some of the stunning dishes the national team prepared include king crab and octopus roulade; milk-poached toothfish with citrus-cured ocean trout; and cauliflower custard with onion chip.
The competing chefs - all of whom have experience in culinary competitions - started weekly training sessions a year ago on weekends. They also had to raise funds for sponsorship, as it costs about $250,000 to fund a team at an international competition, said chef Tay.
He added: "Culinary competitions are all about seeking perfection. This enhances your skills, your being and you as a chef. It tests a chef's techniques, creativity and consistency. It produces better chefs and this has a direct impact on the industry.
"It is not possible to create competition food daily, but we are able to integrate part of it, in food presentation, for example."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated the chefs in a Facebook post on Friday evening.
"Our Team Singapore athletes have done us proud this year, and now we have one more reason to celebrate - the Singapore National Culinary Team were crowned the overall champion at the Culinary Olympics 2016!" he wrote.
"Like the Olympics Games, the Culinary Olympics are held every four years, but always in the same place - Erfurt, Germany. This time 30 countries took part. Singapore is the first Asian country to win double gold in the Cold Display and Hot Cooking categories."