Putting a French Twist to M'sian Cuisine

Armed with their freshly minted scrolls, the latest batch of graduates from Sunway Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia are raring to elevate the culinary landscape in the country.

Lim Justine Jiaxin and Jensen Chong Zhe Hang, who were among the 43 graduates from the class of 2021, are excited at what the future holds.Lim, a patisserie student, said there are many talented local chefs in the food and beverage (F&B) industry whom she can learn from, and many F&B businesses where she can sharpen her skills.

“I would like to kickstart my culinary career in the country first,” she told StarEdu when met at the graduation ceremony on Nov 16.

Pointing out that Malaysia is home to a smorgasbord of unique tastes and aromas, she noted that there are some really exotic ingredients that chefs can work with here.

Meanwhile, cuisine and patisserie student Chong hopes to create a dish that is uniquely Malaysian.

“There are many popular dishes in the country. However, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish our recipes from the ones found in other neighbouring countries in the region.

“What happens then is that you get another country claiming that a particular dish belongs there,” he said.

Chong is already planning to tap into the French cooking techniques he had learnt, and come up with a new fusion meal that incorporates Malaysian flavours.

“Ipoh has the best curry mee, in my opinion. I hope to one day create something that is based on that particular dish. I would love to blend the precision of French cuisine and local flavours together,” he said.

At the ceremony, the duo was awarded the Grand Diplôme, which is the most prestigious culinary qualification at Le Cordon Bleu.It is awarded to deserving graduates after nine or 18 months of full-time study at the institution.

This year also marked the 10th anniversary celebration of Sunway Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia. During the event, the school’s alumni set up booths to showcase their creations.

One of them was Petiteserie chef/owner Janice Siew, who delighted guests with croissants and cakes using local ingredients.

“It’s good to study a culinary programme locally as you are taught recipes that can be adapted to local ingredients and palates,” she said, adding that the education she received had helped advance her business in the country.

At the same time, Siew cautioned that being in the culinary field is not always what it’s made out to be on reality cooking shows.“It’s no MasterChef. It’s tough work but it is extremely satisfying, and you need to have passion to do it,” she said.

Making the event even more momentous was the celebration of the institution’s first batch of students who graduated from its Advanced Diploma in Professional Cookery programme.

Sunway Le Cordon Bleu director Prof Datuk Dr Elizabeth Lee said culinary graduates play a vital role in bringing people together through their creations.

“Eating well is associated with mental well-being. A poor diet and overall physical health are connected to one’s state of mental health.

“In this regard, the sharing of meals is said to be a central event of the connection and relationships associated with various mental well-being and a longer lifespan,” she said.

Le Cordon Bleu International vice president (APAC) Charles Cointreau said the latest batch of graduates should be commended for successfully completing their studies amid the Covid-19 pandemic.“Students had had to be extremely resilient in adapting to delays and closures, and sometimes in following their classes online,” he said.

According to Cointreau, the pandemic has left a huge gap in the F&B industry.

“There’s a real scarcity of talent who are well-educated, creative and ready to make their mark,” he said.

But this also spells vast opportunities within the culinary field in a post-pandemic environment that students can tap into.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the restaurant and food industry with a number of social mutations, innovations and challenges which are all impacting the industry,” he said, adding that those with qualifications from reputable culinary schools will have an added advantage.

Moving forward, Cointreau believes that recovery would be strong in the F&B industry within the country, as well as abroad.

“After a few years of regression and stagnation, it is poised to being one of the strongest growth motor for the economy and the future growth here in Malaysia and around the world,” he concluded.