The results of the quadrennial “IKA Culinary Olympics” from Germany have recently been announced. Among the winners is a team from the Department of Culinary Arts and Gastronomy under the College of Tourism and Hospitality. Led by Dr. Chien-Sheng Lee, students created the piece, “The Grace of the Earth – Cocoa,” inspired by the cocoa farming culture of Pingtung. Their exceptional skills and creative ingenuity impressed the international judges, earning them the bronze medal in the “Chocolate Artistry” category and bringing pride to Taiwan.

The IKA Culinary Olympics, originating in 1900, is one of the largest and oldest culinary competitions globally, acknowledged as an A-level international culinary event by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS). This year, under the leadership of Dr. Chien-Sheng Lee, accompanied by five students from the Department of Culinary Arts and Gastronomy, the team embarked on a journey to Germany to partake in the competition. Their presentation showcased the enchanting allure of cocoa beans, representing the nurturing essence of the earth and the dedication of cocoa growers in Pingtung. Through their artistry, they transformed cocoa into many mesmerizing creations, embodying lifelike cocoa expressions using chocolate, exemplifying Taiwan’s unique craftsmanship and profound connection to its roots. Particularly striking were the vivid portrayals of cocoa farmers, captured with their attentive gazes and focused demeanor during harvest time. The design featured bold and dynamic lines, seamlessly blending avant-garde elements with traditional cultural symbolism. The inclusion of the phrase “Made in Taiwan” within the artwork vividly and directly highlighted Taiwan’s distinctive local style.

by merging Taiwan’s rich traditional culture with contemporary art and emerging energy concepts. The cocoa beans used are sourced from Neipu, Pingtung, highlighting the aim to promote Taiwanese agricultural products. The artwork predominantly consists of dark chocolate, complemented by milk chocolate and white chocolate, and undergoes a meticulous tempering process to refine the crystals. Standing at 160 centimeters tall and weighing 45 kilograms, meticulous attention was paid to weight distribution, packaging, transportation, temperature and humidity control, assembly, shaping, adhesion, coloring, polishing, and aesthetic design throughout the competition journey. Each stage was pivotal, and it was thanks to the wholehearted support of the team members that commendable results could be achieved.

The students from the Department of Culinary Arts and Gastronomy, including Ming-Lun Wu, Ko-En Chen, Chih-Yun Hsueh, Yu-Wei Feng, and Jui-Huang Chen, all acknowledged the challenges posed by the long flight from Taiwan to Germany, particularly in transporting materials. They had to meticulously plan the delivery schedule and mitigate the risk of damage to the items during transit. Additionally, on the day of the competition, they faced the daunting task of transporting their works to the venue, requiring careful handling and on-site assembly. Despite the obstacles, they felt immensely proud to represent Taiwan on the global stage through the competition. Jui-Huang Chen, an overseas student from Indonesia, emphasized that the competition not only brought honor to ISU but also offered her a valuable opportunity to delve deeply into Taiwan’s local industries and culture while creating artwork. She regarded it as an invaluable chance to immerse herself in Taiwanese culture from a different country.

Dr. Ren-Fang Chao, the Dean of the College of Tourism and Hospitality, emphasized that fostering creativity through competitions is crucial for nurturing students at ISU. The remarkable achievements attained through the collaborative efforts of the faculty members and students in the competition held in Germany not only showcase the outstanding teaching accomplishments of the College of Tourism and Hospitality, surpassing those of other institutions in Taiwan, but also garner international acclaim. The ISU team adeptly conveyed their hometown’s unique local characteristics through culinary art, serving as exemplary international ambassadors and, more importantly, as trailblazers guiding the younger generation onto the international stage. This significantly contributes to talent cultivation in the tourism industry in Taiwan, offering optimal opportunities for their advancement.

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