26 Aug 2011
Young Hong Kong elites to compete at London WorldSkills
Talking about physical prowess, we think of the Olympics Games, and talking about academic talents, there is always the International Mathematical Olympiad. When it comes to contesting on skills, what we have in mind is the WorldSkills Competition, where young professionals compete neck to neck with counterparts from across the globe. This year, Hong Kong will field 12 elite contestants for the 41st WorldSkills London 2011 on the events such as Cooking, Graphic Design Technology, IT Network Systems Administration, Offset Printing and Beauty Therapy.
Derek is one of the local delegates who will take part in the Cooking contest. Derek was fond of cooking since he was small. Shadowing his uncle who was a professional chef, he tried his hand on cooking at the young age of primary 6. On completion of Secondary 5, he decided to pursue his passion for cooking, and enrolled on the Certificate in Food Preparation (Western) – Raw Food Processing course offered by the Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre (HITDC). Not until then did he realise that cooking meant a world of knowledge and skills. To be an outstanding chef, one not only needs cooking skills but also a deep knowledge of ingredients. Take the processing of meat as an example. Different parts of the meat have different texture which requires different handling technique. Such knowledge has to be acquired over time before one gets the knack. Moreover, the job is physically demanding as a chef has to stand for most of the time. Derek loves his job despite all the hardships. “I like cooking very much and simply do not find my job hard. In fact I work with much more vigor and enthusiasm” On completion of the HITDC course, Derek immediately entered the field to become assistant chef of a catering chain.
Derek likes to enter competitions to challenge himself and last year he clinched the Gold Prize of the Western Cooking category of the Hong Kong Youth Skills Competition, winning for himself recognition of his strength and the opportunity to represent Hong Kong in the WorlsSkills London 2011. To prepare for the global contest, Derek returns to the HITDC every week to receive rigorous training by the experts there. The WorldSkills is demanding as every aspect of the competing dishes have to be perfect in appearance, smell, taste, as well as the cooking processes, skills and hygiene. What is more, to test contestants’ knowledge of ingredients, adaptability to change and creativity, some of the dishes required for contest will only have their themes revealed on the spot. Derek’s passion for cooking earns him the appreciation of his employer. Apart from promotion and salary increase, his employer staunchly supported him to take part in the WorldSkills and allowed Derek to hone his skills in the restaurant after working hours.
Set to depart for London, Derek admitted that he was nervous but was also elated as he is to see for himself the skills of elites from all over the world, which must be a great boost to his cooking knowledge. Whether he is to win or not at the end of the day, he is already a winner.