The Golden Spoon Awards 2015: Winner reveals recipe for success

Thứ bảy, 26/11/2016 16:29

Before the final round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2016 takes place, chef Vu Van Thanh, winner of the Golden Spoon Awards 2015, would like to share interesting experiences which helped Lotte Hanoi Hotel conquer the black box challenge and crowned with 1-billion prize.

Chef Vu Van Thanh (right) discussed with his two assistants before drafting their menu for the black box challenge.

What should chefs prepare to face and actively respond to challenges in the final round taking place at the 7th Military Zone Sports Hall, 6 December 2016, especially, the moment they receive the black box? Vu Van Thanh, Executive Chef of Grill 63 Restaurant (Lotte Hanoi Hotel) said it is always the biggest question that every team has in their mind and make them nervous all the time. His team went through that feeling really well. According to the winner born in 1981, “it does not matter which ingredients you receive from the box but rather your own ideas prepared even before receiving the box”.

The current winner conceded it did not help the team very much if everyone was preoccupied with anxiety just before the final. So, he encouraged them to channel their attention to studying the regulation and getting themselves ready for menu improvisation. “I used to sleep on the idea for two weeks long before discussing with the other two members. For example, a great deal of sleepless nights had been put in the menu inspired by the story of Prince Lang Lieu and his famous glutinous rice cakes during the prelim. Although it was only an idea, he prioritized to highlight Vietnamese patterns in every dish, which showcased our dedication and determination to the judge panel”.

The Golden Spoon Awards 2015 winner conceded it did not help his team very much if everyone was preoccupied with anxiety just before the final.

According to the chef with 14 years of experience, “every contender in this competition possesses the same skill sets and talent. However, what can make them truly stand out to win is the knowledge of food and profound understanding of traditional cuisine”.

He continued, “Despite our curiosity for the black box content, we were not distracted by that at all. I focused on the idea and how to implement it instead, then started consulting my team over it. That is why I am confident to say I can make any tasty and good-looking dish from any ingredients given”.

Chef Vu Van Thanh open the "black box" containing confidential material.

Chef Vu Van Thanh explained how he went from rough ideas of each dish to find out “side ingredients” – supporting ingredients and necessary spices. “Side ingredients” connect core ingredients received from the black box. The problem is, from secret ingredients in the box, chefs need to flexibly deploy and make use of side ingredients  to create new recipes with extraordinary taste and unique presentation. In that final round, his team received the box which contained crab, chicken breast, lobster, frog, fermented rice and ripe jackfruit.

Team of Lotte Hanoi Hotel won the highest title of the Golden Spoon Awards 2015.

Time was their biggest enemy, “We need to allocate sufficient amount of time for each step in order to execute the menu properly. Everything has to be fast and precise”, said chef Thanh. He also expressed that he highly valued the idea of Thao Ngoan Restaurant’s team since they applied folklore inspiration into the making of their menu, from Tam Cam, Prince Mai An Tiem or Tale of the Watermelon, Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh to Lac Long Quan – Au Co, etc. Going around that idea, the chefs from Dong Nai Province developed their menu to win the second prize of Nutritious Recipe section.

Jellyfish and pennywort salad – the entrée in the menu of Lotte Hanoi Hotel’s team for the semi final of the Golden Spoon Awards 2015.

For him, since the Golden Spoon Awards is the competition searching and paying homage to  Vietnamese food, it should rely on Vietnamese culinary heritage and exquisite tradition; the methods could be westernized or modernized though. That is why he would not stop thinking and finding the best ideas by reading more books, doing online researches, narrowing down and giving possible creative touches in order to complete a recipe.

“Like building a home, creating a good dish needs proper “groundwork” and “pillar” to “build” and complete. Our country has a rich and diverse cuisine, which is a precious material for chefs to explore and endevour. A tasty and eye-catching dish has to bear meaningful cultural patterns and an enticing story behind so that diners can remember and celebrate it with us”, winner of the Golden Spoon Awards 2015 concluded.

By Trung Dzung

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