Team ALI from Taylor’s University punched out competitors from North America to be declared champion in the 2019 Student Culinology® Competition earlier today in the United States.
The team, comprising of four final year Bachelor of Science (Hons) Culinology® students, beat teams from Southwest Minnesota State University and the University of Guelph to clinch the coveted spot.
Taylor’s University Faculty of Social Sciences & Leisure Management Executive Dean Professor Dr. A. R. Neethiahnanthan expressed his delight over this achievement, sharing that the strong performance by the students is credit to their determination to stay the course and a reflection of the strength of the programme, the only one of its kind outside North America.
“This is the third time a team from Taylor’s University has been named champions in this prestigious student competition. Their spirit of excellence and willingness to stay the course through the last five months is representative of the Taylor’s spirit, and an embodiment of why we were recently named the 14th best university in the world for the Hospitality & Leisure Management subject in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 recently,” he said.
This year’s competition saw the four students, Lee Chor Yang, Adrian Chua Sern Yi, Hii Wen Suog and Chiew Jun Kang, work to create a clean labelled Kentucky-inspired food item suitable for a fast casual restaurant menu.
The four youth spent time to research popular Kentucky dishes and after assessing the items, opted to work with an iconic Kentucky food item- burgoo, which is a traditional stew- for their entry.
The four champions pose with Dr Kuan Yau Hoong, their lecturer who mentored them through the five months
Jun Kang, the team leader said that they wanted to attempt something unique with their entry to the competition and transformed the dish to a pie.
“We wanted to reimagine the dish and felt that a pie would be a good take. We made a sorghum pie crust and filled it with chicken burgoo, sriracha bell pepper gel and mashed potatoes. The final touch was a spiced carrot puree.
“It turned out to be the best decision as the judges loved our pie crust and also shared their appreciation for the packaging that we developed,” he said.
Hearing the team name called out during the presentation ceremony; which took place at 4 am Malaysian time; was a surreal moment for the team.
Reliving the moment, Jun Kang said that the team members were exhilarated when they heard the announcer call out Team ALI during the event.
“It was a dream come true- this achievement was only possible thanks to the strong camaraderie between all four of us.
“We were inspired by the theme and even named ourselves after a proud Kentucky native- Muhammad Ali, who was born in Louisville. We wanted our product to pack a punch and leave an impact with the judges and that’s what we ended up doing,” he said.
Team ALI beat contestants in the 12th edition of the competition, which is organised by the Research Chef Association to tap into the creative young minds in the field of food product development, to bring back the coveted trophy and USD2,500.