The Young Chef Olympiad(YCO) is one of the largest and most prestigious competition that is hosted by the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) and is held in Kolkata, India. The competition brings together student chefs from more than 50 countries and takes place between 28th January and 2nd February 2018.

Young Chef Olympiad 2017
Photo: Young Chef Olympiad 2017

In 2017, Mathew Tham, an alumnus from our own At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy represented Singapore in the Young Chef Olympiad. He was named the champion in IIHM’s third edition of the YCO, and also brought home the ‘Best Hygiene Food Practice’ accolade. Way to go, Matthew!

What sparked Matthew to pursue a career as a chef? It was a simple yet loving breakfast meal that he had whipped up for his first girlfriend. The 24-year-old chef-in-training said that putting a smile on people’s faces through cooking is his ultimate inspiration and joy.

Following the success of last year’s champion, this year’s YCO contestant Andre Lim has every intention to defend the championship title (and overcome his predecessor by doing so).

Led by his passion for the kitchen, the young chef-in-training, from our own At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, has worked immensely hard to grasp the opportunity to represent Singapore in the 2018 Young Chef Olympiad.

Singapore for the 2018 Young Chef Olympiad
Photo: Andre Lim, student chef contestant representing 🇸🇬Singapore for the 2018 Young Chef Olympiad

Andre is very self-driven, humble and extremely hardworking. Since his teenage years, he had begun exploring his passion in the culinary industry by working part time in pop-up restaurants.

After completing his studies in Pioneer Junior College, Andre decided to put aside his plans for a university degree to pursue his interest in the kitchen and hasn’t looked back since.

Having completed his national service in early 2017, Andre wanted to test if his passion for the kitchen is a fantasy, or a real passion that he wanted to pursue. He sourced for kitchen-related openings and landed himself an opportunity at Fullerton Hotel’s buffet restaurant. Despite being a little nervous (as he’s never worked in a professional kitchen before), he took up the job. He had one single objective in mind — to test how he would be able to cope under a stressful kitchen environment.

During his 6-month stint at Fullerton Hotel, Andre met Wilson, an alumnus from At-Sunrice. He was impressed with the professionalism of Wilson’s work in the kitchen, and out of respect and admiration he became good friends with him. Wilson could relate easily to Andre’s passion, and recommended that he pursue his passion by enrolling in At-Sunrice’s Diploma in Culinary Arts programme. Andre enrolled later that year in September.

Upon completion of his diploma, he would be able to continue on his culinary journey with the academy’s various degree pathways with partner universities.

Andre now works at Din Tai Fung, a chinese dim-sum specialty restaurant chain, as a Research and Development (R&D) Trainee Chef. He spend most of his time researching on how to improve the ‘efficiency’ of production for their current menu. Aside from his main job, he also work on development of new menus (for future use), and cook for the 300-strong staff at the central kitchen’s headquarters. He believes that good holistic food should be served to the masses, and not reserved only for a select few.

Andre believes that by participating in the Young Chef Olympiad, he would have the chance to discover and learn from competing student chefs around the world. He also looks forward to building new international friendships during the competition.

Chef Bruno Menard with Andre and his mentors Chef Kelly Lee and Chef Satish Madaan
Photo: Chef Bruno Menard with Andre and his mentors Chef Kelly Lee and Chef Satish Madaan.

He is extremely grateful for his mentors’ guidance – namely Chef Kelly Lee (Chef Instructor, Western Culinary Arts) and Chef Satish Madaan (Senior Chef Instructor, Asian Culinary Arts). He is confident that with their mentorship, he would be able to hone his craft and skills to a higher level needed to perform well at the competition.

Recently, we had the honor of having Chef Bruno Menard, a former Three-Michelin-Star chef and a seasoned judge on MasterChef Asia, pay a visit to taste the dishes that Andre had in mind for the competition. As a seasoned judge, Chef Bruno gave invaluable insights to how he can further sharpen his recipes that might give him the competitive advantage.

With passion, refined technique, immense mental strength and rigorous training, Andre is confident and hopeful, and would do his utmost best to clinch the championship in the 2018 Young Chef Olympiad.

We wish you all the best, Andre!

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