ALL the hard work experimenting in the kitchen has paid off for Nur Sarah Abdul Rahim and Azeera Hashim, both 22, who emerged as champions at the recent Uni-Chef 2014 competition.
The two students from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) were among the top 10 finalists who competed in the final round of Malaysia’s first online healthy cooking competition for tertiary-level students held at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus.
“The competition gave us a good platform to put all that we’ve learnt in our Culinary Arts degree course into practice.
“While taking into account the theme which called for a healthy meal, we took it further by learning about nutrition for children and making the meal visually appealing for them.
“That required creativity and versatility with the ingredients used,” said Nur Sarah, adding that she wanted to quash the perception that healthy food meant bland, boring food.
Azeera added that the duo experimented with different methods of cooking to get the best flavour out of their meal.
“The exposure we gained from Uni-Chef was amazing. I enjoyed shooting the cooking demonstration video prior to the finale. That’s an experience you don’t get often,” said Azeera.
Nur Sarah and Azeera received a RM5,000 cash prize and a medal from guest of honour, Deputy Education Minister II, P. Kamalanathan for their dish — roasted vegetable pasta served with almond crusted chicken fingers.
First runner-up Amira Norshuhada Muhamad Zuki and Muhammad Uzair from Taylor’s University and second runner-up Muhammad Safuan Abdul Latip and Muhammad Hakimi Badrul Hisham from UiTM received medals as well as RM3,000 and RM1,000 respectively.
The remaining finalists received RM500 each. All Uni-Chef participants received a certificate of participation from the organiser.
Celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail (Chef Wan), who was among the panel of judges for Uni-Chef 2014, said he was impressed by the finalists’ efforts, particularly those who incorporated different ingredients into one dish instead of multiple dishes.
“Considering today’s parents’ busy schedules, many fall into the trap of buying packed food, which may lack the proper nutrition needed by their children.
“Wraps are simple to make. Combine a variety of vegetables with some grilled chicken and you have a complete meal,” he said.
“It is really not difficult to make changes to our diet. Take for example, fried kuey teow.
“We can simply cut our carbohydrate intake by reducing the amount of kuey teow noodles and substituting with more vegetables and seafood,” added Chef Wan.
Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) president Dr Tee E Siong said, “Uni-Chef aims to help create a new generation that is aware and knowledgeable about healthy eating.
“It is also hoped to become one of the main sources of reference for parents in providing healthy food for their children.”
Speaking about Uni-Chef, Petronas Dagangan Berhad LPG Business Division general manager Nik Faizanira Nik Affandi said, “Uni-Chef 2014 has great potential to promote awareness within our society on healthy eating lifestyle, safe cooking practices and at the same time, nurture young talents in the culinary industry.”
Uni-Chef is organised by NSM and video recipe portal Try Masak with PDB as the main sponsor.
The theme chosen for the inaugural competition was “Healthy Recipes for School Children”.
The competition was open to all diploma and degree students in public and private institutions registered with the Education Ministry.
More than 275 students from 23 higher education institutions participated during the competition from Sept 1 to Oct 1.
From there, 58 students from 14 different higher learning institutions were selected for the second round, where they were invited to record a cooking demonstration video.
The videos were uploaded onto the Uni-Chef website for public voting.
The competitors with the 10 most popular videos were then invited to participate in the grand finale.
More than 20,000 votes were received during the online voting period from Nov 8 to Nov 30.