A team of three KDU students brought home a Gold Medal from the recent FHA in Singapore (read more about KDUs involvement). The Food Hotel Asia is one of the most prominent events in the hospitality world. Ooi Shar Mayn, Amanda Yuen and Julia Ung took part in the Dream Team Challenge and tell us, how they experienced the event.
For those who do not know what the Dream Team challenge is, could you explain it?
Shar Mayn: The Dream Team challenge is a competition that requires three person, one chef, one bartender and one service staff. Teams should try to provide the ultimate dining experience for our guests, whilst maintaining great team work and good communication with the guests. It is like an actual restaurant service, based on a theme, with a three course menu. I was the bartender, Amanda was our service personnel and Julia was the Chef.
How were the three of you selected for this event?
Julia: Shar Mayn and I we were in the same class. Our chef lecturer Mr. Kenneth actually selected us for the competition, because of our dedication, I would guess.
I assume, it requires a tedious amount of preparation. How did you prepare?
Julia: We started preparation months ahead. We began menu planning already in December 2009 and had many practice dinner services here in Café 87, in KDU. We invited our friends, relatives, industry partners and KDU staff to dine with us and only charged a minimum amount.
Although the requirements for the Dream Team challenge is only a starter, main course, dessert, specialty coffee and our own creation of a mocktail and cocktail, we added bread and an amuse-bouche, a small bite to amuse your palate prior to the meal.
Shar Mayn: As part of the preparation we also had various fund raising activities last year. We sold muffins and pastry, for example. To actually join the competition is quite expensive. We had to buy decoration, uniforms, linen, glass wear etc.
Great guidance came from our lecturers. All the chef lecturers helped us, but mostly chef Kenneth for the culinary side and of course Mr. Tham for all things related to service. And, of course, we could not have done it without the support from friends and families, and the support of Ms Kitty and Mr Oliver, the heads of the school.
So, tell us about the day of the competition.
Shar Mayn: Our stint was on the last day of FHA, a friday, which was great, because this way we could observe many of the other teams on the days prior and make final adjustments to our theme.
On the day we came in at 8:30 to prepare our setting, tables and chairs. Julia got things ready in the kitchen. By 11:15 we had to stop for a briefing. Also, the judges came around and evaluated us on our menu, hygiene, setting, practicality and safety.
Julia: At 12:00 the guests arrived and our service commenced. In other categories it is common that outsiders buy tickets to come for the service, however, our guests where invited professionals from the F&B industry. We served our meals, the cocktails and explained our theme to them.
Our theme was “Planet Ocean” and the menu would have to tie in with it. The judges commented that we actually were the only team that fully embraced their theme, from the setting to food to our uniforms.
Our service ended around 2:30 and the judges went to tabulate the results.
What was your reaction when you heard that you had won?
Shar Mayn: I cried. When I first heard that we had won gold from a friend, I thought he was joking. Only during the actual prize giving I realized that we had just won the competition. For this event I sacrificed a trip to Indonesia with my class, but now I knew that it was well worth it. I was relieved.
Julia: I still cannot believe it. All the hard work, all the staying back late had paid off. It was well worth it. And of course we had learnt a lot.