BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A team of professional chefs from Brunei Darussalam will be taking part in Asia’s first international culinary competition for professional chefs, World Chef Battlefield (WCB-2019), hoping to cast a spotlight on Bruneian and Borneo cuisine amidst fierce international competition.

Professional chefs from Rizqun International Hotel, the Empire Hotel and Country Club and Raddison Hotel will be representing Brunei Darussalam led by team commander Chef Rezal Othman from Rizqun – who recently won the award for best taste during the Brunei Gastronomy Week 2019 in February.

Chef Rezal and his team will be facing off against 15 teams from countries including, China, South Korea,  Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Mauritius from April 4 to 7 at the Movenpick Hotel and Convention Center KLIA in Selangor.

Chaired by professional chef and Masterchef Malaysia judge Chef Zubir Zain, the WCB-2019 is the first culinary championship of its kind held in Asia and will be recorded live and broadcasted throughout the continent.

“I received a call that we were invited to take part in the competition back in January, since it was going to be the first culinary competition between international professional chefs, its a rare opportunity that we couldn’t reject,” said Chef Rezal in an interview with The Scoop.

Chef Rezal Othman (3rd L) pictured with the Brunei team competing for the World Chef Battlefield 2019 held in Selangor, Malaysia. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

Being in the culinary industry for almost 30 years, the chef said that with Brunei’s participation, it would help test the capabilities and performance of the sultanate’s culinary industry, especially when going head to head with international cuisine.

“We want to approach the competition, one challenge at a time and we’re not just trying to represent Bruneian and Borneo, but in general the cuisine of the Malay nusantara, which may be challenging as the organizers will be providing the all the raw cooking ingredients.

“We have to figure out how can we bring the cuisine from here to there using the ingredients provided, it may be difficult but I think our team has enough talent to pull it off”.

Ultimately, for Chef Rezal, he wants to take Bruneian and Borneon cuisine to the global arena, because he believes that it is about time for regional cuisines to be highlighted in the global culinary discourse, to shift the attention from the west to the east, or more specifically, to the southeast.

He’s also hoping the experiences gained will also help elevate the culinary industry in Brunei Darussalam, imploring local culinary professionals to not only look outside but also within and elevate the traditional or the conventional by imbuing it with modern sensibilities.

“The thing with Brunei, or Borneo in general, is that we have ingredients that might not be found in other countries, so we must be proud of what we have and figure out how to push them [our traditional cuisine] further, to contend with international cuisines”.

The judging panel will be headed by Otto Weibel from Switzerland who is accredited by the World Association of Chefs Societies, and members of the jury will comprise industry professionals from all over the globe.