School of Hospitality (SOH), Sunway University, played an integral part in the success of the Food & Society 2017 International Conference held in Istana Hotel Kuala Lumpur late November. The conference, a joint organisation between the National University of Malaysia (UKM) and the Asia Pacific Food Studies Network, saw more than 100 participants from twelve different nationalities from all continents across the world participating through research presentations, culinary demonstrations and workshops, discussions and visits.
This 2nd international conference captured a broad audience with a genuine interest in food, be it a research object or simply an authentic passion, thus attracting key speakers and presenters from the culinary industry, such as chefs, scientists, writers, social scientists, food historians, industry professionals, food researchers, hoteliers, food scholars and academicians, journalists, foodies, passionate amateurs, as well as students.
A variety of programs were featured, beginning with a welcoming cocktail at the French Ambassador’s Official Residence on Day 1. On Day 2, it was a full day with four keynote presentations, one concurrent session, a food workshop by Chef Devagi Sanmugam, a Singaporean celebrity chef known as the ‘Spice Goddess’, and a Conference Dinner catered by the School of Hospitality, Sunway University.
As the conference theme centred around heritage preservation of the culinary traditions of creole communities, including consumption of indigenous plants and herbs, the culinary team of the School of Hospitality crafted a magical dinner entitled ‘Gardens of Malaysia’ where the various varieties of indigenous plants and herbs, as well as local village cuisine was offered to the international delegates.
After the sumptuous dinner, the delegates were introduced to local village games and activities, all put together by the students from the Diploma in Events Management and the Diploma in Hotel Management under the supervision of their subject lecturer, Dr Teh Pek Yen. It was a wonderful experience for the delegates as they got to experience a little bit on how local children used to play games in the villages a long time ago.
Day 3 started with concurrent sessions where six lecturers and 5 students from the School of Hospitality presented their research papers. It was an especially proud moment for the School of Hospitality when these 5 students, Loke Poh Yee, Tan Jing Xuan, Tan Suk Leng, Siew Chin Yee and Lim Wei Ann, from the BSc (Hons) in International Hospitality Management presented their Research Project entitled “An Organic Trap: Perceptions and Purchase Intention of Gen Y in Malaysia Towards Organic Junk Food” for the first time in a conference.
The conference then wrapped up with a plenary session discussing the preservation of the Peranakan Culture, as well as a Food & Music Workshop, featuring culinary students, and chefs from Cambodia and Japan.
The 3-day conference was also supported by the students undertaking the BSc (Hons) in Conventions and Events Management, under the guidance of their lecturer, Ms Hairani Muhd Nur. These students helped to usher the delegates, assisted the VIPs and speakers, as well as provided their support in making the conference run smoothly through registration activities, monitoring and managing of PA systems, and many other duties.