Taylor’s students and Unilever Food Solutions curate plant-based meals

IN line with a policy of student-industry collaboration, a team of five Taylor’s University students from the Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Culinology programme recently participated in an industry mentorship project with executive chefs at Unilever Food Solutions Malaysia Singapore (UFS MYSG) to develop a plant-based menu.

“Being a global food company, we are in the right position to make a positive impact on the global food scene. Nurturing future chefs has always been one of our focuses in Unilever Food Solutions,” said industry mentor and executive chef at UFS MYSG Eric Chua.

Chua said the company is aligned with Taylor’s purpose to equip students with the skills and networks to navigate the industry, to enable them to become productive leaders who create a positive impact in their chosen fields.

Student-industry collaborations are part of the university’s Taylor’sphere ecosystem to prepare its students for successful careers by nurturing them in the three intelligences of intellect, craft and practical wisdom.

The ecosystem is also supported by a plethora of resources such as Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace, open access to physical and virtual laboratories, committed career planning and life skills coaches, and entrepreneur startup incubator BizPod.

For Taylor’s, much of the practical wisdom that students gain is embedded in the projects that they engage in.

Culinology student Liew Heu Kei shared her experience of leading Taylor’s student team and working on the project with the chefs and mentors from UFS MYSG.

Liew Heu Kei (right) led the Taylor’s team in the collaboration with UFS MYSG.Liew Heu Kei (right) led the Taylor’s team in the collaboration with UFS MYSG.

“We performed a comprehensive market research and analysis to understand the potential customers better. Additionally, we went through a brainstorming and recipe testing process to develop new plant-based meals with an emphasis on taste as well as nutritional content,” she said.

Prior to the cook-ups and menu trials, the students had a demonstration by UFS MYSG to showcase products such as their plant-based meat and how they were to utilise them in their recipes. Her team successfully produced 18 specially designed plant-based meals and presented them to the UFS MYSG executive team.

Taylor’s Culinology students observing cooking demonstrations by UFS MYSG industry mentors to create plant-based meals.Taylor’s Culinology students observing cooking demonstrations by UFS MYSG industry mentors to create plant-based meals.

Liew added: “Through our weekly check-ins, the chefs and mentor team from UFS MYSG have been very helpful in advising and guiding my team on many aspects such as menu concepts, SOPs, marketing, food media, and presentation skills.”

Aside from honing skills such as problem-solving and teamwork, Liew feels that industry projects such as these are important as they can put into practice what they have learned as students and be better prepared to seek growth opportunities in the sphere of food product development.

Chua said that apart from students gaining industry insights, professional development and networking skills, the UFS MYSG team benefited from the collaboration as well.

“Engaging with university students for projects like these allows my team and I to understand the new generations of chefs better,” he shared.

As the programme director of the only Culinology programme offered in Asia, Assoc Prof Dr Chong Li Choo actively encourages industry leaders to partner with Taylor’s for industry-based projects and collaborations with students.

“More than 70% of Culinology modules at Taylor's involve the industry in some way and are designed to prepare students to start their careers right after graduation,” she said.

Find out more about Taylor’s University’s programmes and June Special Semester here.

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