This is the first time that such a competition has been held in Taiwan. Davis Wu (吳秋衡), director of the US Meat Export Federation’s Taiwan office said that it was a chance for chefs to become familiar with a wider variety of ingredients.
“We want to encourage people in the food and beverage industry (in Taiwan) to use more creativity in preparing these agricultural products. This is especially important now that Taiwan is embracing a global market,” Wu said.
The styles on display at the competition were certainly international, but finding a signature style is not easily achieved, and the fallout from the struggle to use the required ingredients and create something that stood out from the crowd could be seen at the judging table. A lumpy blueberry mousse with walnuts was one of the dishes that signposted a wrong turn in the creative process.
As the judges cogitated over the scores, the teams themselves inspected each other’s creations with an eye for detail that may even have surpassed that of the judges. For all the competitors, this was intended as a learning experience and there were animated discussions about the piping of mashed potato and the consistency of sauces.
In the end, the teams from the big hotels, who had been the odds on favorites to win going into the competition, were knocked out by two young chefs, Li Dun-li (李敦立) and Lin Ying-wei (林盈緯) from the restaurant Bite 2 Eat (薄多義, reviewed in Taipei Times Sept. 16, 2011, p14). In the award ceremony, Palmer said that the teams from the three other qualifying rounds were already preparing intensively for the finals in Taipei this June, and that Taiwan’s food and beverage industry should get behind these outstanding chefs and give them all the support they need.