24 Nov The Good Taste Series, Hyatt, Asia Pacific Finals
2018 marks the second year of Hyatt’s global The Good Taste Series, an exciting competition that encourages participation from chefs of all ranks, across all of the Hyatt brands.
Speaking to Woontae Baek, Demi Chef Partie at Hyatt regency Perth, and the Australian representative in the competition, it’s clear that the competition presents an exciting opportunity for the contestants to have their dishes tasted by different chefs, meet and be inspired by chefs working in other countries, and push them to excel and create unique flavour combinations and techniques, even after the competition comes to an end.
This year the Asia Pacific finals were held in Hong Kong, and saw six contestants battling it out for a place in the global finals. These six chefs hailed from different regions – Australia, mainland China, South East Asia, South Korea, Japan & Micronesia, and Hong Kong, Macau & the Philippines:
- Woontae Baek, Demi Chef de Partie, Café Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Perth
- Lily Liu, Executive Sous Chef, Forty8, Park Hyatt Hangzhou
- Josephine Loke, Chef de Cuisine, 665°F, Andaz Singapore
- Sebong Oh, Commis Chef, Steakhouse, Grand Hyatt Seoul
- Sotara Okuda, Chef de Partie, Trattoria Sette Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Kyoto
- Jason Ho, Commis #1, Bel Air Bar & Grill, Grand Hyatt Taipei
The welcome dinner saw the unveiling of the Black Box: a mystery box of ingredients that had to feature in at least one of the two dishes that would be created the next day. The ingredients for this year’s competition included venison, langoustines, porcini mushrooms and kohlrabi. Providing much of the fresh produce was ecoFarm, a certified organic farm that ships over 130 varieties of seasonal specialty vegetables and fruits to the public, mainly within Hong Kong, Japan and South East Asia. The order of presentation was also drawn, then the contestants headed off to prepare their ideas for the long day of cooking ahead.
After toiling in the kitchen since 8:30am, the chefs finally presented first their cold dishes, then later their hot dishes to the official judges in the afternoon. Judging the competition were seven highly respected figures in the culinary world: Dong Keping, Dave Pynt, Bruno Menard, Susan Jung, Margarita Forés, Andreas Stalder, and Myffy Rigby.
The competition was tight, and the contestants cooked a diverse range of wonderfully creative and beautifully plated dishes. As they described the fruits of their labour, we had an insight into their inspiration, whether that be drawn from their personal stories, the culture and cuisine they grew up with, or the place that they now call home. In the end, the two that will be moving on to the global finals are chefs Sebong Oh and Lily Liu. Presenting the final award was Tomoya Sugizaki, chef de partie at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, and last year’s winner of the Asia Pacific finals.
The Good Taste Series is a great initiative that really highlights the creativity and skill of the chefs working at Hyatt, and I look forward to hearing of the high calibre dishes that will be turned out in Singapore next year at the global finals.
Behind the scenes at the competition kitchen:
Disclaimer: I travelled to Hong Kong for the Asia Pacific Finals of The Good Taste Series courtesy of Hyatt