TWO CHEFS will represent the Philippines in the International Young Chef Chinese Culinary Challenge (IYCCCC) in Hong Kong next year. Michael Lee Avisado of Vikings Luxury Buffet bagged gold while Muhajiran Ijiran III of Manila Commisario took silver in the local qualifying round. They will join around 50 young chefs from over 20 countries at the international championship.

Lee Kum Kee — the inventor of oyster sauce and a globally renowned Chinese sauce and condiment manufacturer — hosted this year’s first qualifying contest at the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts on Oct. 30.

The IYCCCC, which started in 2014, is a biennial contest that provides international exchange platform for the Chinese culinary industry. It aims for young chefs to learn and “promote the inheritance of Chinese culinary skills and sustainable development of the Chinese culinary industry.”

“With the mission of ‘Promoting Chinese Culinary Culture Worldwide,’ Lee Kum Kee is committed to nurturing Chinese culinary talents worldwide. The IYCCCC is an optimal platform for young Chinese chefs from around the world for culinary exchange,” Lee Kum Kee managing director South Asia Leslie Lau said in a press release.

During the competition, 10 chefs (divided into two batches) were tasked to draw which protein (shrimp, beef, pork, chicken) they would prepare as their dish; both batches were given an hour to cook and present their dishes.

Aside from a medal and certificate, Mr. Avisado also won P25,000 and P10,000 worth of Lee Kum Kee products; Mr. Ijiran III won P15,000 and P5,000 worth of Lee Kum Kee products.

Other awardees include: Elier Maghanoy (King Chef Seafood Restaurant), Jefferson Palma (King Chef Dimsum Kitchen), Janin Jayco (U-Rack Bar-B-Q & Wings) who each won the bronze award, receiving a medal, certificate, P8,000, and P3,000 worth of Lee Kum Kee products each.

The chefs were evaluated for the taste, texture, creativity, and presentation of their dishes, and for hygiene. Singaporean award-winning chef Aaron Tan Kean Loon and president of LTB Philippines Chefs Association James Antolin were among the judges who selected the winners.

According to Lee Kum Kee Philippines business manager Ryan Esguerra Cruz, the Philippine qualifiers will be working with the chefs in introducing new dishes using their products. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman