ICCA Dubai Alumni Sana Quidwai, Wins Silver at Salon Culinaire!

“It was out of the blue when I was announced as one of the winners for a Cooking Competition that I had participated in for the first time in my life”, says Sana Quidwai after winning a Silver for Live Cooking, at the Emirates Culinary Guild ’s prestigious Salon Culinaire 2016.

When Sana joined ICCA Dubai to pursue her interest in cooking as a career little did she know that she could make a mark this early in her career graph even before starting her journey as a Professional Chef.

According to Sana, it was Chef Daniel Hiltbrunner, Master Chef Instructor at ICCA Dubai who encouraged her to participate in the competition. “Chef Daniel was there from the very beginning to give me all the support I needed. As a beginner, it was only because of Chef Daniel I gained the confidence to participate in a high profile competition like this, and he also helped me prep with necessary training sessions for the event”, said Sana.

To participate in a Live Cooking Competition for the very first time was indeed a challenging experience for Sana and that she came out with flying colours made this winning even more special. “The amenities provided in the competition were all new to me and within the allotted time period. I not only had to prepare and present the dish impeccably but also had to get myself comfortable with the types of equipment around me in the makeshift kitchen. All these made me even more nervous than I already was, but that is the challenge in a competition like this, you cannot expect to be in your comfort zone and you simply push yourself to the limit where putting out your best becomes your only priority”.

When the competitions started she was only focused on giving her very best and little did she know about the overwhelming response coming her way from the jury by the end of the show. ” I made Chicken Roulade and finished with a nice plating presentation  & on time. When the plate was presented to the Jury, they were all really impressed with my plating skills and it was shown to the fellow competitors, as an example of plating that ought to be done in a fine dining restaurant. That sure was some real moment of winning for me, where I knew I was able to deliver successfully from what I had learnt so far from the ICCA Dubai”.

Sana did not have any second thoughts about, to whom the credits for her success should be given. It was definitely Chef Daniel, Chef Marco and the other ICCA faculty who were in and around to give her timely feedbacks on her improvements while she was preparing herself for the competition back at the school. “I had started preparing myself at the school for the competitions under the guidance of Chef Daniel and Chef Marco. They made me prepare the same dish over and over again and pushed me really hard to cope with the required competition standards timing in plating, as everything had to be done at the quickest possible so that the food made reached very fresh and hot to the judges table. I am glad that I had such a good support system behind me, which not only enabled me to win a Silver Medal in this competition but also built up my confidence for a better tomorrow”.

The Winner of 'Salon Culinaire' in the UAE at ICCA Dubai

When asked about her future plans and the benefits that came out of such an experience, all Sana had to say was about the exposure she got through the competition.”It is a great experience to be around so many Industry Professionals and to see them all work with true passion. I think all the budding chefs should experience this kind of event so that they get a good idea of the industry and their working styles. Also, this competition has helped give me a good platform to start my career in the industry”, she added.

About Salon Culinaire

The Emirates Culinary Guild’s Salon Culinaire is a series of practical and display-based culinary competitions; entry to which is open to professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers. Approximately 1,300 young chefs compete to become stars of the future. From practical cooking competitions to the buffet and banqueting showpieces, chefs showcase their talent through a wide range of skills and techniques. Competitors are evaluated by a panel of renowned experts, mandated by the World Chefs to judge culinary events across the globe, ensuring the highest competition standards.