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The New Darling of Vietnamese Culinary

Tuesday, 02/14/2017 10:58
It has been a busy yet inspiring year for the Golden Spoon contest. The most memorable moment stayed at the judge meeting on the day before the finale.


The Board of Judges of The Golden Spoon contest finale 2016.

Around the oval table at the Military Zone 7 stadium, there was a mixture of murmurs in German, French, English, and Vietnamese. Outside of the area, there was a waiting team from The New York Times's T Brand Studio…

One time, an Australian TV show featured a well-known chief demonstrating how to make a dish from beef, pork, chicken, broth, and vegies. At the end, it turned out that he was making… Pho. It was an unease feeling – the feeling when you knew a bottle of Phu Quoc fish sauce had been made in Thailand. Thus, it felt wonderful to see the judges of the Golden Spoon contest.


The Golden Spoon contest 2016 – Board of Judges.

It was not surprised when “The chef of the century” – Eckart Witzigmann flown from Germany had the most attention. Holding the contest journal, he took notes carefully on the participant judges.

Right after landing, Eckart Witzigmann requested to know other judges’ arriving status. Then, he felt relief to learn that everybody was here.

“They have knowledge about Vietnamese culinary more than I do, therefore, they can share with me a bit of their expertise”, Eckart explained.

By “they”, Eckart referred David Thai, the main chef at Park Hyatt (Dubai), Spain, and Jordan. This French Vietnamese chef also achieved Michelin Star title and won the gold medal in Global culinary contest in 2005. The second person in Eckart’s team was Norbert Ehrbar – vice chairman of Saigon professional chef Association. Norbert was well known as the person who had brought Western taste into Vietnamese culinary. This Swiss man has chosen Vietnam as a promising land to develop his cooking career.

Eckart also enjoyed having a conversation with the President of Escoffier Vietnam – Sakal Phoeung and Marco Brueschweiler – Swiss Master Chef and International Master Chef awarded by International Chef Association. It was such a stunning moment to witness how the judges staying, chatting, discussing together with the contestants and how Vietnamese dishes was evaluated by a team of international culinary experts.


The New York Times's T Brand Studio representative reported news about the contest.

A loud bell ringing

On her personal Facebook account, guest judge – 1st runner up, Miss Vietnam – Vu Hoang My predicted the expenses for the Golden Spoon contest 2016 could reach to 50 billion VNĐ.

Regarding the objective behind his huge investment in this contest, Mr. Ly Ngoc Minh – CEO of Minh Long I Ltd. shared that even though he had visited many places on the world and tried several deliciously famous dishes; he and his friends still agreed Vietnamese food was still the best. This recognition raised a concern among local passionate culinary people that Vietnamese traditional dishes such as pho, banh xeo, cha gio, etc were still struggle in globalizing their reputation.

The most limitation of Vietnamese dishes stays at a lack of standardization, which constrains the foreigners from learning, purchasing and re-making. Thus, this contest is born to not only find the exceptional chefs but also standardize the dishes’ recipes, and act like a stepping stone for the Vietnamese culinary to expand globally.

At several cooking contests in Vietnam and abroad, culinary expert – Ms. Bui Thi Suong has gathered opinions from top international culinary experts on changes in Vietnamese dishes to become more attractive.  All of them agreed that Vietnamese tastes were amazing (tasty flavors, low-fat preparation, vegies side dishes, and healthy impact. Align with the lifestyle everyone is moving forward to – “good food, good health”). However, we need to alter our dishes’ presentation to become more appealing and sophisticating in order to approach high-class guests through 5-star hotel system.

A PHD majoring in Asia at an American University, who has audited the Golden Spoon contest with a group of students, wrote us a letter. In his message, he stated that he wanted to promote the story of the Golden Spoon because the Vietnamese culinary heritage was richer than what the world had already known.

By Kien Chinh/ TTTG

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