After a dramatic cook-off during the finals of the inaugural Culinary Olympics, chef Foong Man Chung from Banquets emerged as the champion with his winning dish of yellowtail stuffed with otah, nasi lemak cooked in bamboo served with achar and lemongrass emulsion. Man Chung’s winning dish will be featured on the a la carte menu at RISE restaurant. The finals were presided over by a panel of judges including renowned celebrity-chef Gordon Ramsay, Christine Kaelbel-Sheares, Vice President of Food & Beverage, and Christopher Christie, Executive Chef of Marina Bay Sands.
“To cook in front of Chef Gordon Ramsay in his kitchen at Bread Street Kitchen is a dream come true,” Man Chung said. “It’s an unforgettable experience beyond my day-to-day duties. It was very exciting to have won the inaugural Culinary Olympics – it’s definitely an honor.”
The Culinary Olympics is an exciting platform for F&B Team Members to showcase their culinary skills and creativity. The event not only encourages Team Members to be imaginative, but also allows a rare opportunity for them to be coached by Marina Bay Sands’ talented pool of executive and celebrity chefs
The Culinary Olympics proved to be an eye-opener for Man Chung as it was his first competition. Despite not knowing what to expect, he came away with many positive experiences to share. The three competing chefs were coupled with mentor chefs during the semi-finals, with Man Chung assigned to Adrift’s Chef William Gumport. Together, they spent hours in training to perfect the dish for the final showdown at Bread Street Kitchen. On competition day, the three chefs only had 30 minutes to finish off their dishes.
“I went in blind,” he said. “Fortunately, my chefs and fellow Team Members gave me a lot of advice and helped me with any questions I had. I’m grateful to Chef William who taught me so much during our training sessions together. Chefs are notorious perfectionists and our passion for our craft really inspired me to push my own boundaries.”
Man Chung wanted to honor the memory of his grandmother’s nasi lemak during the competition. He had to recreate the fragrance of the full-bodied rice the way he remembered it. The next hurdle was preparing the lemongrass emulsion. Through numerous attempts, Man Chung successfully blended the fragrance of lemongrass and fullness of coconut milk such that resulted in a complementary balance. Man Chung added a final twist to nasi lemak by choosing to stuff the yellowtail fish with otah before pan frying, infusing a unique taste while keeping to the dish’s traditional roots.
“It was an incredibly tough decision to pick one winner amongst the three as each chef was equally creative and crafted such unique dishes,” Christine Kaelbel-Sheares, Vice President of Food & Beverage said. “We debated over the many merits of each dish and finally selected Man Chung as his dish exemplified what one would expect when dining at Marina Bay Sands. A truly unforgettable experience of the yellowtail and bursts of flavor. He raised the bar for a classic dish with a youthful yet authentic delivery. We were in unanimous agreement that this dish is truly what one would expect to taste when visiting Singapore, and Man Chung did not fail to deliver!”