Zhen Jia-min takes top prize in Dim Sum Young Talent Competition 2014

Zhen Jia-min takes top prize in Dim Sum Young Talent Competition 2014

The best young dim sum chefs competed for cash prizes and an apprenticeship at a top hotel, but one with a passion for food really stood out from the rest

There are few things better than relaxing with some delicious dim sum at the weekend. But it is far less relaxing if you are the chef cooking the tasty snacks - especially if you're being judged on your dishes by a panel of experts.

That was the challenge for the five young chefs taking part in the final of The Peninsula Hong Kong's Dim Sum Young Talent Competition 2014. With a top prize of HK$25,000 and a two-year apprenticeship at The Peninsula Hotels, the pressure was on. But as they say, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The heat wasn't a problem for the winner, Zhen Jiamin, who wowed the judges with her creations.

"There was a big gap between first and second place," said Florian Trento, the executive chef for the Peninsula Hotels Group and one of the judges. "[Zhen's dish] was perfect, from preparation to presentation."

Not everything went smoothly for Zhen, but she managed to serve up a great dish. Young Post editor Susan Ramsay, another of the judges, was impressed by a ginger tart, even though Zhen didn't have time to finish it.

"It was a bit undercooked, but it was still wonderful," said Ramsay.

Zhen, 19, who lives and studies in Guangzhou, said it wasn't easy cooking her best food in an unfamiliar city.

"I wasn't confident because the ingredients I used during the final were different from the ones I am used to back in Guangzhou," said Zhen. "Plus, the long-distance travel from Guangzhou to Hong Kong didn't help."

Not that the judges noticed. The regional vice-president of The Peninsula Hotels, Rainy Chan, awarded Zhen the prize, and praised her enthusiasm.

"I could really feel her passion for cooking and for dim sum," said Chan. "We saw stronger contestants this year."

Before the competition, Zhen was unsure about a career as a chef. Now she's looking forward to cooking many more dishes.

"I wasn't sure whether I should pursue being a chef," she said. "It's an unstable career, but winning the competition has convinced me to try."

Competition was tough. Also taking part were Kwong Wing-ki, a graduate and professional chef, and Tse Hing-wing, who made the finals of last year's competition. Kwong took the first runner-up prize, while Tse was named second runner-up. For Tse, her strong showing made up for last year's disappointment.

"Last year, I cut my finger," said Tse. "So I couldn't continue in the competition and had to go to hospital."

Tse was given a surprise reward on top of her second runner-up prize of HK$10,000 - an internship at The Peninsula Hotels.

"Hing-wing showed her devotion to dim sum by returning to the competition," said Chan. "[People like Tse] provoke passion in the dim sum industry, which is important for Hong Kong and its tourism industry."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Delighting in dim sum


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