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Culinary Creativity Sizzles in Semi-Finals and Finals

YMCA ProChef Cookout Contest 2023

By Anne Das & Judy Lam (Pictures by Tapir Films Sdn Bhd)

The culinary fervour in Ipoh reached new heights today as the ProChef Cookout Contest 2023 ventured into its Semi-Finals and Finals. It was a day marked by palpable excitement, as the eight Semi-Finalists took on a sizzling challenge that featured chicken as the mystery ingredient.

As the Semi-Finalists donned their aprons, Little Katong in Canning Garden transformed into a space of culinary creativity. The air was thick with the irresistible aroma of cooking,  promising a feast of deliciousness.

Eight Contenders, One Goal

These eight exceptional contenders showcased not only their culinary skills but also their ability to remain cool under pressure. From grilled chicken to chicken roulade, spaghetti paired with mouthwatering stir-fried chicken, and even dishes with a spicy kick, the offerings were proof of the contestants’ innovation.

Here are some of their dishes:-

The judges had a tough task at hand, as the points were incredibly close. Whittling down the eight Semi-Finalists to just four proved to be an arduous process, given the undeniable dedication that each participant poured into their culinary masterpieces.

The Grand Finale: ~ Prawn and Salmon Took Centre Stage

In the Finals, the competition elevated to new heights with not one but two mystery ingredients: prawn and salmon. Seafood made its first ‘main ingredient’ appearance in the contest, adding a layer of complexity to the dishes.

Here are the 4 finalists with their dishes:-

With the top prize money of RM6,000 on the line, the tension in the room was palpable. Contestants were given an extended time frame of two hours to work their magic.

The judges closely scrutinised each contestant’s style of cooking, even engaging them in conversations to understand the culinary thought process. Generous host Little Katong, provided extra ingredients upon request, which allowed contestants to experiment with seaweed flakes, jackfruit and dragon fruit.

The creativity was not limited to the taste buds; the dishes were also a visual delight. The seafood was prepared in various ways – deep-fried, pan-fried, seared, and cooked in delectable sauces – offering a smorgasbord of flavours and textures.

The four finalists, Kok Jian Ling, Low Puen Koon, Leing Ti Wei, and Then Khai Meng, are a testament to the diverse backgrounds of the competition. Among them, two are chefs, one is an engineer, and one is a housewife. The latter two, referred to as the “dark horses” of the competition, have surprised many with their culinary prowess.

Who among our 4 finalists will take home the First Prize cash and trophy?

The competition drew a sizable crowd of spectators, all eager to witness the culinary showdown and savour the mouthwatering dishes.

The suspense continues as the results of the competition will be unveiled during the YMCA Charity Dinner – A Night of Pots & Pans on Friday, 27th October at Super HLT. It’s a night that promises to be filled with excitement, as dance performances and items for sale add to the festivities.The four finalists are left in a state of nail-biting anticipation, knowing that their culinary destinies will be revealed at this highly anticipated event.

Note: In this thrilling culinary adventure, the rewards are just as enticing as the dishes themselves. The top ProChef will walk away with an impressive RM6,000, while the Second Place contender will savour their sweet success with RM3,000. The 3rd and 4th place winners, not to be forgotten, will each carry home RM1,000.

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