Preparation has begun for a team of chefs looking to defend Singapore's Culinary World Cup title for the third consecutive time.
The Republic will enter November's Expogast tournament in Luxembourg having won the last two events in 2014 and 2010, as well as back in 1998. They will take on the likes of China, Norway, Canada, Sweden and the United States at the event, which is held every four years like the football World Cup.
There are two segments of the contest - culinary and pastry art, and "hot kitchen". The latter requires teams to prepare a three-course menu for 120 people from scratch in just five hours.
Teams will be judged by an international jury on presentation and innovation, composition, correct professional preparation and serving arrangement.
"We need to plan every detail carefully and ensure the recipes are precise and accurate too," said Mr Nixon Low, executive chef at Tung Lok Group who will be Team Singapore's captain. "It is almost like cooking blindfolded - that is the level of difficulty we are talking about."
Mr Low was previously an assistant at the 2014 competition. "I know what kind of pressure I'll face and I am going to be the one to calm everyone down," he added.
This year, the seven-member team will be boosted by Nanyang Polytechnic's Asian Culinary Institute's (ACI) partnership with the Singapore Chefs' Association (SCA) to train the champions.
The formalisation of the ACI and SCA partnership was held at the Lifelong Learning Institute yesterday. It will also see the launch of culinary masterclasses for professionals on topics such as cook-chill technology and kitchen design.
New Workforce Skills Qualifications programmes will be available for those fulfilling other roles in professional kitchens. The partnership has also found a permanent "training ground" for the chefs at the ACI in Eunos Road.
"Previously we had to run everywhere from hotels to restaurants and see who could lend us their kitchen for us to train in but now it is great that we have a dedicated training area," said Mr Louis Tay, 53, executive chef at Swissotel Merchant Court and a member of the winning team in 2014. He is one of eight mentors guiding the team.
The rest of the Singapore team, chosen by the SCA, is made up of team manager Kong Kok Kiang, executive chef at Sentosa Golf Club; Ms Sherine Lim, sous chef at Purple Sage; Mr Hoo Zhi Hao, sous chef at Lavish Catering; Mr Sebastian Wong, chef de partie at Odette; Mr Jason Goh , pastry chef at Grand Copthorne Waterfront; and chef Koh Han Jie.
The Culinary World Cup is organised by the Vatel-Club Luxembourg - the Luxembourg professional chefs association which is also a member association of the World Association of Chefs Societies. It runs from Nov 23 to 29.