We catch up with Chef Ho Jia Yi, the winner of the Young Talents Escoffier 2023 Asia Selection and find out what she did to bring home the trophy!
Q: How did you prepare for the YTE competition?
I train after my work ends which is around 11pm and during my off days. I will do R&D on the recipes to get the flavours & textures that I want and then I go through time trials as per competition day.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about your winning dishes?
For my appetizer, I did prawns 2 ways with a slaw and zucchini with a tomato salsa and fresh herb and coriander remoulade sauce finished off with a drizzle of prawn oil. I lightened the mayo-based sauce with salsa to balance the dish out. I wanted the appetiser to be refreshing as the main course is usually heavier on the palate.
For my main course, it was a mystery box ingredient, so we didn’t know the main protein until the competition day. I got chicken and i decided to go with a 2 layers chicken breast and a chicken roulade made from the thighs. I also made a fricassee with orange glazed baby carrot, butternut squash with eggplant caviar, Butternut squash purée & port wine sauce. I guess the technical part would be the preparation of the protein. Starting from trimming and deboning the chicken to assembling the components.
For my last course, the component I needed to use was chocolate ivory 65%. My concept for this dish was a warm and cold component so I did a baked chocolate pudding with mango insert, passion fruit sorbet, orange vanilla anglaise sauce & Vanilla tuile and crumble. The trickiest component would be the passion sorbet because it was the first-time, I made sorbet using dry ice.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from the competition?
“My biggest takeaway from this competition would be that having a supporting team that has your back is especially important and to always give your best in every training. Train like it’s the competition day and don’t bother about the naysayers, just do your best and your work will speak for itself.”
Q: What does winning this competition mean for you?
Firstly, I want to thank my mentors, coaches, and my team because without their help I would not be able to achieve the results today. Secondly, I want to thank my sponsor Lim Joo Huat & Indoguna Singapore! Without their support I would not be able to get my training done. Lastly, winning the Escoffier Asia Selection 2023 means a lot to me as it is a redemption for my last performance at the 2022 competition.
Q: As a young woman in the culinary industry, what are the challenges you face?
Having women in this culinary industry is something don’t see often. It’s a tough industry to begin with, with long working hours, competitiveness and throw in gender bias. Many people doubt if you can make it in this tough industry and I need to work extra hard, faster and better to be respected and heard.
Q: What would you say is the key to your success as a Chef?
I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I have achieved today without the help from my team. Teamwork is the engine that enables regular people to achieve extraordinary results!
Q: With such a good start to your career, what would be your end goal?
My dream would be starting my own dessert cafe.
Q: Seems like you have a sweet tooth, can you share with us your favourite dessert?
Jia Yi: That would be ice cream/sorbet & viennoiserie (Croissant, etc)
Q: Will we get to see you in action again?
I’ll be headed to France for the Escoffier International Competition 2024, so you can catch me there!
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