Taiwanese-American chef Jan Hwang-june (詹煌君) won a gold medal at the recent Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) World Culinary Olympics in Germany with his 14 examples of extraordinary squash carving and his cooking skills.
Jan, an executive chef at the Asia Restaurant in New York City, said on Wednesday that he prepared 14 dishes, including appetizers, main courses and desserts, which were served and displayed at a competition-level banquet.
His award-winning culinary art piece, titled “The Wonder of Nature” and based on his signature squash-carving skills, earned compliments from judges and spectators alike, he said.
He said that it took him four years to perfect his carving techniques.
Jan, who won a gold medal at the competition in 2008, said he was proud to be able to introduce Chinese delicacies to the world and to allow more people to learn about the cuisine.
At the age of 16, Jan moved from Hsinchu City to Taipei to pursue his studies. However, his family’s economic situation forced him to take up a job in addition to his studies.
He began by washing dishes at an air force club. During his time at the club, he learned how to make different styles of Chinese food, such as spicy Sichuan dishes, northern Shandong dishes, Beijing cuisine, southern Guangdong and Taiwanese dishes, as well as all sorts of Chinese desserts.
He moved to the US about 30 years ago.
The quadrennial cooking contest is the oldest of its kind in the world, dating back to 1900. This year it attracted about 1,600 chefs and their support teams from 54 countries.
A total of 36 national teams, 28 national youth teams, eight national military teams and 14 community catering teams from all over the world took part in the Oct. 5 to Oct. 10 competition.
A total of 17 Taiwanese chefs, who took part in 24 categories including cooking, baking and fruit and vegetable carving, bagged 14 gold medals this year.