Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) graduate Stefenpon Sitindjak has successfully competed in, and won the Lee Kum Kee NZ Developing Chefs Challenge which was held on October 12th at the Auckland Seafood School. Mr Sitindjak’s winning dish was a skilful fusion of Chinese cuisine and the food he grew up with from his home culture, authentic Indonesian cuisine.
Mr Sitindjak competed with five other chefs in the challenge, and his winning dish reflected his passion for, and the influence of food from his Indonesian culture, clearly won the judges favour on the day.
He prepared Nasi Uduk (Indonesian Sundanese Style) : Jasmine Rice with Coconut Cream, Lemon Grass, Ginger, Onion, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Salt.
Chicken and Mushrooms Purple Eggs.
Ngohiong or Hekeng : Chinese Indonesia Borneo Island Spring Rolls with a Lime Dipping Sauce
Mr Sitindjak incorporated the sponsor’s sauces into his herb and spice mix, but first of all he said he had to figure out the characteristics of the ingredients, not just cook them. He achieved this by reading lots of books and discussing his dish with many people.
The competition judges were Paulie Hooton : Head Chef at the Auckland Seafood School and former Head Chef at Oyster Inn on Waiheke Island, who has over 25 years experience in NZ’s restaurant industry; Mark Dronjak : A seasoned chef with over 40 years in the kitchen and a wealth of published work across radio, newspapers and magazines.
Mr Sitindjak said he appreciated the judges’ feedback, who clearly enjoyed his well-crafted creation, one judge watching the preparation said he couldn’t wait to try the food and the other judge wanted to finish the dish all by himself!
He said they also gave good advice on displaying his dish, offering instruction on making the food presentation look impressive by how it’s plated up.
As the winner of the NZ competition, Mr Sitindjak will now go onto the International Young Chef Competition in Hong Kong in September 2021, as well as being the New Zealand Brand Ambassador for Lee Kum Kee, and receiving a $3,000 cash prize.
He said he intends to take the same food ideas to the Hong Kong competition, “but I’ll make it amazing, with different plating and I will add some Indonesia food culture in”.
Mr Sitindjak was supported with advice and guidance of SIT’s School of Hospitality and Cookery tutors, and was able to conduct a practice session at SIT prior to competing, to perfect his dish under the tutelage of Glenn Stridiron, Programme Manager.
“Glenn has helped me with many things, and gave me many ideas, advice about food and shared his experience. And when I had my practice at SIT, all the tutors and technicians gave me much advice and support too. A big thanks to them”.
Looking forward to next year with confidence, the young chef is intent on bringing home the top prize again, not just for himself, but for all the people who helped him along the way, and NZ as well.
“I think this is not just my win but a win for SIT and Invercargill too”. For the International Young Chef Competition next year in Hong Kong, he’ll need more advice and support, and prayers from many New Zealanders, “because I will win the competition for New Zealand”.