The grand finals of the Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition was held at Conrad Centennial Singapore on April 5, 2012. We got a chance to sit in with the judges and catch the colourful culinary action.
This engaging competition is organised by the Food & Beverage Managers’ Association Singapore (FBMA) and Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) for those in the food & beverage (F&B) industry, primarily to raise the standards of the F&B professional service.
The criteria of the competition use the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) as a benchmark; candidates are assessed by speed, product knowledge, professionalism and skills in various tasks of dish preparation and showmanship which include:
- Folding of napkins in the preliminary rounds
- Preparation of mocktails for finals
- Level of service for finals
- Quality of food preparation for finals
Celebrity guest Moses Lim
The judging panel is made up of
- Alan Lowe, Associate Dean of Shatec Institutes
- Edward Choa, assistant director of the Tourism Division from the WDA
- Local celebrity Chef Eric Teo, highly respected personnel in the F&B industry.
Participating teams came from Furama RiverFront, Conrad Centennial Singapore, The British Club, Golden Peony and InterContinental Singapore. The 7 teams of three compete in the preparation of a multi-course lunch of mocktail, appetiser, soup, main course, dessert and specialty coffee.
Hygiene and safety, technical skills and service technique, creativity and originality, personality and grooming, end product presentation are significant guidelines for evaluation. When it comes to the actual food, the judges look for something that is simple, straightforward and well executed. Presentation is an important aspect; the dish should be visually appealing for the judge to have a strong desire to taste it.
Check out some of the more notable works of the winning teams.
Second runner-up: Furama RiverFront (Team A)
Furama RiverFront (Team A) displays a nice progression from the first course to the last course, with the consistent use of a floral theme. Floral elements are incorporated creatively within each dish, as well as the overall presentation.
The thoughtful and creative table setting leaves diners room for imagination, and gives a lasting impression.
The Rosezette, an elegant palate of rose “maga” with a touch of mango and peach, garnered the most number of votes at the judging panel, and is Chef Eric’s personal favourite. It is light, sweet and refreshing with a citrus finish.
Trio of Duck
The Trio of Duck comprises pan-fried duck liver with grapes chutney, duck confit stuffed in filo pastry and roast duck sandwiched with slices of mango and cucumber in butterfly bun. The intricate detailing in each component of this appetiser is worthy of praise; it is visually alluring. Unfortunately not all components were as well executed in the taste segment.
Purée of celeriac
The purée of celeriac is judge Edward Choa’s favourite, and also one that I personally enjoy as well. The well-balanced soup is infused with truffle oil that isn’t overpowering, with well-made crabmeat ravioli suspended within, then topped with caviar.
Roasted maine lobster
Every element on this plate of roasted maine lobster with sautéed spinach, yam mash, tempura zucchini flower with cheese stuffing, deep-fried golden mushrooms and vermouth cream is generally excellent, with an unconventional yet exceptional combination of ingredients.
I’m Rose “Z” (Kahlua Bailey brandy, hot milk with a touch of red rose essence and espresso coffee)
The rose-inspired specialty coffee is composed of Bailey brandy, espresso coffee and hot milk, with a touch of red rose essence.
First runner-up: Golden Peony Chinese Restaurant
The sophisticated setting presented by Golden Peony Chinese Restaurant is further enhanced with the intricately folded napkin. Tableware are selectively chosen to complement the mood.
The Scarlet Eclipse, a fruity concoction of cranberry juice, orange juice, lychee syrup, adorned with a fruit skewer is simple but persuasive.
Cream of carrot soup
Chef Eric Teo found the cream of carrot soup extremely tasty and palatable, with sweet and savoury notes commingling well together.
Grilled lamb chop with mint sauce served with sautéed vegetables and mashed potato
Champion: Furama RiverFront (Team B)
The champion team from Furama RiverFront (Team B) takes an sophisticated approach. They pull it off with flair, in terms of both presentation and taste.
The immaculate table setting and creative napkin folding, splashed with majestic colours of red and gold, makes this a dining experience well suited for a king.
The glassware used for the Vineferra mocktail stands out with its elegance. The mocktail is sweet with grape, peach and apple accents.
Timbale of Maine lobster
The Maine lobster appetiser arrives in a splendid presentation, and totally wowed the judges!
Essence of chicken
Chef Eric Teo was exceedingly impressed with the essence of chicken soup. It is infused with Madeira white wine, black truffle with buoyant poached quail eggs; a classic soup well executed with clean flavours.
Pistachio crusted rack of lamb, with sautéed green vegetables, garlic confit, potato mousseline and shiraz reduction
The meticulous plating and the attention to details definitely score points for the pistachio crusted rack of lamb. The lamb is most certainly tender and pink, with pistachio lending a nice crunch.
Crepes Suzette with vanilla ice cream and mixed raisins
For desserts, every team was instructed to serve crepes. The crepes are provided to each group due to time constraint, thus only the sauce, execution and presentation are considered in the judging.
“Vitis” Café (Hazelnut crème brulee Armagnac coffee with milk vanilla perfumed and espresso coffee)
Other noteworthy dishes from the finalists
The British Club: Pearl vine tomato & basil broth
The British Club: Herb crusted baked Atlantic black cod fillet
The herb crusted baked Atlantic black cod fillet is actually my favourite entrée; it is a great pity that the other courses lacked the necessary oomph to acquire enough points for the team to win.
Conrad Centennial: Warm watercress spinach soup
The brilliant colour of this soup is so inviting. When this soup arrived, Chef Eric Teo’s eyes were gleaming; he divulged that his favourite colour is green. Personally, I enjoyed the flavours. Chef Eric was a little disappointed that the soup lacked any sort of discernible ingredients for texture.
What an eye-opening experience at the Singapore National Restaurant Skills Competition! It’s our first time experiencing a culinary competition of this scale. The teams impressed with their level of professionalism and calibre.
For our friends in the F&B industry, you can take WSQ courses to equip yourselves with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve your employability. This is good news for all of us as the standards of service and food quality in the F&B industry will certainly improve overtime.