Tue, Jul 09, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Yilan lauds baker Hsiao after Thailand triumph

By Lin Ching-lun and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Yilan County Commissioner Lin Zi-miao, left, at Yilan County Hall on Wednesday last week presents a gift to baker Raymond Hsiao, second left, to recognize his achievement of winning a silver medal at this year’s Thailand Ultimate Chef Challenge in Bangkok.

Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times

Yilan County Commissioner Lin Zi-miao (林姿妙) on Wednesday last week recognized 23-year-old baker Raymond Hsiao (蕭仁孟) at Yilan County Hall after he won a silver medal at this year’s Thailand Ultimate Chef Challenge with a fondant cake based on a traditional Taiwanese opera stage.

Hsiao, a resident of the county’s Wujie Township (五結), began making fondant cakes when he was a student at National Lo-Tung Commercial Vocational High School.

Most of his creations are influenced by his passion for traditional Taiwanese culture, said Hsiao, who graduated from Taipei City University of Science and Technology’s department of food and beverage management this year.

The cake with which he won the silver medal at the competition, which took place in Bangkok from May 28 to June 1, was titled “Grow With Me — The Beauty of Taiwanese Tradition,” he said.

The work contains his childhood memories of Taiwanese opera, or gezaixi (歌仔戲), culture, he said.

A cake like this takes three to four months to make, he said.

Besides controlling the temperature and humidity of the environment in which he worked, he also had to be cautious about the warmth of his own hands, which could cause the fondant to melt, he said.

Each time before he begins sculpting a cake, he has to calm himself, Hsiao said.

Designing the cake was also a major challenge as a culinary student, he said.

It required him to spend time researching and understanding the aspect of traditional culture he wanted to represent, he said.

He was exposed to the food and beverage industry at a young age because his grandmother was in the sticky rice cake business, he said.

As a child, he aspired to follow in his grandmother’s footsteps, but that has not been easy, he said.

The industry requires a large amount of expense, and traveling to Thailand for the competition cost Hsiao NT$80,000, which he paid with money he had earned from working in Australia, he said.

Hsiao hopes to be able to study and train overseas, where he would be able to observe the culinary cultures of other nations and learn new skills, he added.

When he returns to Taiwan, he hopes to open his own baking studio to teach others how to make fondant cakes, he said.

Through travel and cuisine, he hopes to introduce the culture and flavors of his hometown to the rest of the world, so that more people can understand the beauty of traditional Taiwanese culture, he added.

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