Young chefs, budding restaurateurs, and aspiring culinarians from across the Philippines put their skills to the test and rose to the top of their game as they battled it out to earn the privilege of representing their country for an international culinary contest. Lee Kum Kee, the inventor of oyster sauce and a globally renowned Chinese sauce and condiment manufacturer, invited local aspiring chefs to compete at the first ever International Young Chef Chinese Culinary Challenge (IYCCCC) – Philippines Qualifiers at Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Manila last October.
Since its inception in 2014, the IYCCCC has been a biennial contest providing an international exchange platform for the Chinese culinary industry. It encourages young chefs from the world to hone their skills and learn, while at the same time, promoting the inheritance of Chinese culinary skills and sustainable development of the Chinese culinary industry with the aim of enhancing the international standard of Chinese cuisines.
A star-studded judging panel, including Singaporean award-winning Chef Aaron Tan Kean Loon, Champion of Lee Kum Kee International Young Chef Chinese Culinary Challenge 2016, Executive Sous Chef Intercontinental – Singapore, and Chef James Antolin, President of LTB Philippines Chefs Association, Ms Sandy Cu, Product and Business Development Director of Sysu International, and Mr. Ryan Cruz, Business Manager, Lee Kum Kee Philippines selected two winners from the Philippines Qualifiers. The top two talented contestants – Michael Lee Avisado from Vikings Group and Muhajiran “Pongky” Ijiran III from Kuya J Restaurant, earned the privilege to go on to the next level in the 4th IYCCCC in Hong Kong next year, competing with around 50 aspiring young chefs from over 20 countries and regions for the international championship. In the last contest, all three contestants from the Philippines won bronze awards.
The biggest winner during the IYCCC Qualifiers was Michael Lee Avisado from Vikings Group who aside from winning the coveted Gold award, also went on to win the Best Sauce Combination and the Best Presentation categories. Coming in second place with the Silver Award was Muhajiran “Pongky” Ijiran III of Kuya J Restaurant while the Bronze winners were Elier Maghanoy from King Chef Seafood Restaurant (who also won the Most Creative category), Jefferson Palma from King Chef Dimsum Kitchen and Janin Jayco from U-Rack Bar-B-Q & Wings.
The man of the moment, Michael Lee Avisado, has been in the culinary industry for 9 years already and has been with the Vikings Group already for 2 years. He is currently the Executive Sous Chef, as well as the Officer-in-Charge of the restaurant’s Mall of Asia branch. He is partial to Lee Kum Kee for his unique creations as the flavors blend well while retaining each ingredients’ distinct taste. His winning recipe, Shrimp Royale, uses Lee Kum Kee’s iconic XO sauce as its base.
Mr. Leslie Lau, Managing Director – South Asia of Lee Kum Kee said, “With the mission of ‘Promoting Chinese Culinary Culture Worldwide’, Lee Kum Kee is committed to nurturing Chinese culinary talents worldwide. The IYCCCC is an optimal platform for young Chinese chefs from around the world for culinary exchange. In the 3rd IYCCCC, we had representatives from the Philippines for the first time. This year, we are going even further to host the first-ever Philippines Qualifiers. I wish the two talented winners all the success in the finale in Hong Kong next year, representing the Philippines to fight for the championship.”
Renowned for the invention of oyster sauce and its premium quality with over 130 years of history, Lee Kum Kee, is one of the world’s most recognizable names for Chinese sauces and condiments across the globe. Lee Kum Kee first entered the Philippine market with Sysu International Inc as the sole distributor back in the 1980s and has since been one of the trailblazers in the industry, furthering its efforts to promote Chinese culinary culture, and nurturing future local culinary talents.
For more details, please visit www.LKK.com, follow Lee Kum Kee on Facebook (@LeeKumKeePh) and use the hashtag #LeeKumKeePh.