A CHANCE to rub shoulders with the elite, travel on luxury cruises and be paid for it, appear on international TV and embrace 15 minutes of fame.
Would you immediately answer “No” even if it involves facing a lot of heat, literally?
It’s this kind of glitzy glamour that draws some to take up culinary arts. That and passion.
KDU University College vice-chancellor Prof Dr Khong Yoon Loong says opportunities abound when one embarks on a career in the culinary world.
“There are opportunities to travel, meet interesting people, improve the lives of others, develop yourself and be an entrepreneur,” he says.
KDU School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts head Kitty Lee agreed, saying that a culinary degree or diploma is akin to a passport to the rest of the world.
“We always tell our students not to look at their own backyard but to look worldwide because that is where the jobs are.
“We even encourage them to do their internships abroad,” she says.
Lee adds that the different ways and management of the western world, compared to Asian countries, gives students invaluable exposure and opens their eyes to different cultures.
KDU School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts culinary programme leader Fami Taufeq Fakaruddin can certainly attest to travelling the globe on “the back of a culinary passport”.
The chef lecturer served on an international cruise line during the early days of his career.
“I was really lucky as I covered the whole Pacific area, from Europe and America to the Caribbean and South America and got down at almost every port to explore the sights,” he says.
KDU was the set of the Asian Food Channel television show How To Make It: Culinary Dreams which chronicles local celebrity Awal Ashaari’s journey as a culinary student.
It wasn’t just the chef lecturers who got to be on camera but the students as well.
Culinary arts diploma student Carlisle Vaz got the chance to share plenty of screen time, not to mention the long hours on set, with Awal.
Carlisle competed with Awal in a cooking challenge in Episode Two of the series (Awal won) and also appeared in a few other episodes.
The works of great chefs are always given due recognition and KDU can proudly claim that two of their lecturers were named Best Chefs of 2014.
The third recipient of this award from the Chefs Association of Malaysia is also a KDU alumni.
But the possibility of becoming a micro-celebrity is not all that matters to aspiring chefs as a love for cuisine is even more important.
Although culinary student Amanda Huang Chia Wern also appeared on the TV show and met Datuk Redzuawan Ismail (better known as Chef Wan) during her internship at a five-star hotel, she says it is her passion for cooking that keeps her going.
“It doesn’t matter if I work 12 to 14 hours. I don’t feel it because I like what I’m doing,” she says.
Carlisle says his love for the kitchen drove him to pursue the diploma.
The finance degree holder says that his heart just wasn’t in the financial world and he wanted to do something that would make him happy, regardless of how much work it would take.