Working to educate Vietnam’s future chefs and foodservice operators about the advantages of U.S. pork, USMEF organized and sponsored the 2018 Talented Young Chefs Competition at Thu Duc College of Technology (TDC) in Ho Chi Mihn City. Funded by the National Pork Board, the event provided students an opportunity to gain experience, try out new culinary skills and learn about the quality and versatility of U.S. pork.
Chef Tran Le Thanh Thien, a lecturer for TDC’s Western Cuisine course, was instrumental in the development of the contest. He previously participated in USMEF’s U.S. Pork Quality and Application Workshop and was so impressed with the many applications for U.S. pork that he wanted to share the knowledge with his students.
“He contacted our Vietnam office and we agreed that it would be a great opportunity – both for the students and for us to spread the word about the quality and value of U.S. pork,” said Sabrina Yin, USMEF director in the ASEAN region.
Thien was one of five judges for the competition, which featured eight groups made up of three students charged with creating a recipe using U.S. pork baby back ribs as the centerpiece of a meal. The eight competition groups were ranked based on the flavor, texture, presentation and creativeness of their respective dishes.
A rehearsal was held one week before the competition, with Thien conducting a training session on U.S. pork that included an overview of the U.S. industry. Later, students were allowed to practice with U.S. pork baby back rib samples and learn how to prepare and cook the ribs professionally.
The actual competition allowed students 60 minutes of preparation time. The groups had to start from scratch with raw ingredients, and the judges closely followed the contestants from preparation time through finishing and plating. Each group was required to prepare two identical dishes – one for the judges and one for display. After completion, each group was asked to explain how they came up with their dish concept, choice of ingredients, and method of cooking.
Dishes prepared by the eight groups were braised U.S. pork ribs in orange juice, grilled U.S. pork ribs with sesame sauce, grilled U.S. pork ribs with orange sauce, grilled U.S. pork ribs with apple sauce, grilled U.S. pork ribs with red wine, fried U.S. pork ribs with orange sauce, braised U.S. pork ribs with orange sauce and grilled U.S. pork ribs with plum sauce.
“On the day of the competition, the school’s president and vice president delivered opening speeches, both offering appreciation for USMEF sponsoring the event,” said Yin. “They reiterated that it was a good opportunity for students who are future chefs and restaurant managers to practice their culinary skills using high-quality U.S. meat. They also said this was the first time the school had held such an event and they expected there would be more opportunities to collaborate with USMEF in the future.”