KULAI: With no prior culinary experience at all, a 33-year-old lecturer took a gamble by participating in an international cooking competition in Thailand and managed to take home a bronze medal.
Norsyahrizam Norazami, who teaches food serving and etiquette at Kolej YPJ here, won the prize in last year’s Thailand International Culinary Cups pasta category for his handmade dragon fruit pasta.
Norsyahrizam, who has been teaching there for almost nine years, said he had no culinary experience prior to the competition which took place in Bangkok, as his job was focused on handling the floor outside the kitchen.
Despite his lack of experience in cooking and in culinary competitions, he still took part together with six other colleagues including his head of department Mohd Khairulfazi Mohamed to try his luck in winning a medal for the college.
“I remember feeling very nervous as the pasta category was the first session on the first day of the competition and there were contestants from other Asean countries such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong,” he said when met at the college recently.
Making the pasta from scratch, he incorporated the pureed purple-flesh fruit into the base ingredients of flour and eggs to give the noodles a vibrant tint.
“It took me about a month before that to do research and lots of practice after working hours to learn how to make the pasta.
“It was quite hard to get the texture right initially as my pasta resembled egg noodles more than those typically used in Italian dishes, he said, adding that he threw away more than 20 dishes of pasta from failed attempts.
When his name was announced the next day, Norsyahrizam said he and his teammates could not believe it, as they did not have high hopes for him to win in his first attempt.
“The competition has opened a new window for me to learn cooking as my passion has always been in the service side of hospitality,” he said.
Norsyahrizam said he also took part in the Food and Hotel Asia competition in Singapore in April but lady luck was not on his side then.
“I will keep learning new recipes to take part in more competitions in future to make my college proud,” he added.