Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) graduate Stefenpon Sitindjak has been selected as a finalist in an international brand cooking competition. The chef who’s passionate about food is looking forward to flying the flag of his home nation, by adding an authentic Indonesian twist to his particular take on Chinese cuisine, for the Lee Kum Kee NZ Developing Chefs Challenge.
Originally from Indonesia, Mr Sitindjak was a student at SIT in the Diploma in Culinary Excellence programme in 2018 - 2019 and is accomplished in more than just the field of hospitality and cookery. Already a successful business owner prior to arriving in NZ, he holds an MA in counselling, and is a RFP - Registered Financial Planner.
Mr Sitindjak clearly enjoys challenging himself; aside from a full-time job as a Chef at Ascot Park Hotel, he also fits in the following: cooking international meals weekly for REACH (English Class at Invercargill Christian Centre for 50 - 60 people), participates in the Southern Farmers Market with Indonesian food, does baking for neighbours and friends on his days off, and is working on his own channel on You Tube, producing clips on how to cook. Phew!
He found out about the competition while browsing on the internet, looking for professional chef food competitions in New Zealand, and discovered this year’s Lee Kum Kee NZ Developing Chefs Challenge. Lee Kum Kee is a well-known, established Chinese brand. The company has been operating for more than 100 years in China, and produces sauces and condiments for the Chinese and international markets.
The competition allows young culinary chefs to challenge themselves and through interacting with other chefs, develop their skills, and create innovative cuisine. The competition also endeavours to foster sustainable development of the industry and enhance NZ’s culinary standards.
Mr Sitindjak has been able to refine and practice his dishes for the competition with the guidance and support of his former tutors at SIT. He said he’s had many discussions with SIT School of Hospitality and Cookery Programme Manager Glenn Stridiron and has been able to practice for the competition at SIT, as well as at home.
Culinary competitions are a great way for chefs to test their mettle against other achievers in their field, gaining new ideas and techniques in the process of developing their craft. It’s that type of motivation driving Mr Sitindjak.
“The competition is like an exam for me so I learn, study and discuss with many people, not just other chefs, sometimes with people who know how to cook authentic food, like my parents, grandmothers or our house assistant”.
The food of Stefen’s home country, Indonesia, remains dearest to his heart and he’ll be presenting his competition food with an Indonesian influence.
“I like to cook Indonesian Food because Indonesia has a very rich heritage in its people and around 1300 ethnic groups, who all have different food”.
The New Zealand Developing Chefs Challenge final takes place at Auckland Seafood School on 12th October, with the winner announced at the conclusion of the competition. The winner of the NZ competition takes home a cash prize of $3,000. They will also gain entry to the global International Young Chef Chinese Culinary Challenge (IYCCCC) competition which is due to be held in Hong Kong in September 2021.