The Star Cruises Nasi Kandar Cooking Competition 2013 onboard SuperStar Libra is in the books, with a diverse set of winners.

Organizer Star Cruises announced the successful conclusion of this three-day key event of Genting Hong Kong’s 20th anniversary.

Eastin Hotel’s Junior Sous Chef Mr. Mohd Fauzi Alias, 34, and housewife Ms. Maizatul Shila Bt. Mat Baki, 38, each triumphed over 15 other contestants in their respective professional and amateur categories in the three-day event, the first of its kind held in Penang.

Each walked away with a RM5000 cash prize and 2 sets of 4D3N cruise with Oceanview stateroom with window cabin for two onboard SuperStar Gemini.

Ms. Maizatul of Taiping, Perak, burst into tears when her name was announced. “I’m very shocked.  This win is beyond my expectation. This is a dream comes true. I started off cooking only for my six children, and I’ve always cooked curry as my mother-in-law loves it so much. I’m grateful for my husband who has encouraged me to enter the competition.”

This is also Mr. Mohd Fauzi’s first Nasi Kandar cooking competition. He calls himself very lucky. “The other 15 contestants from the Professional Category are far more experienced than me, but I’ve worked hard in perfecting this dish by exchanging notes with my peers in order to produce flavours which suit different customers. I think this helped to capture the taste buds of the judges.”

Silver Medallion Awards went to Ms. Tan Lay Li and Mr. Jayaraj A/L Shanmugam in the Amateur and Professional Categories, respectively. Each received RM2,000 cash and a set of 4D3N cruise with Oceanview stateroom with window cabin for two onboard SuperStar Gemini.

Housewife Ms Tan, 58, is passionate about cooking, especially nyonya food. She was surprised to find herself finishing second. She hopes Star Cruises can organize more cooking competitions and promote this local cuisine to the world.

Mr. Jayaraj A/L Shanmugam, Owner cum Chef of Bountiful Kitchen Restaurant in Penang, was on cloud nine when he heard his name. “I’m really happy to know the judges love my curry fish head. I was a bit worried they wouldn’t like the fusion twist I gave to the authentic recipe,” Chef Raj said.

Student from Penang’s Golden Chef Culinary Academy Mr. Lim Li Wei and Assistant Chef of The Cruises Steak House Mr. Hasbullah Abd Hamid won the Bronze Medallion Awards of the Amateur and Professional Categories, respectively. Each received a RM1,000 cash prize and a set of 3D2N cruise with Oceanview stateroom with window cabin for two onboard SuperStar Gemini.

It was a memorable day for Lim, 26, to have won second runner up in his first cooking competition. “This competition surely has honed my culinary skills. What I’ve learned here is something I can’t learn from school.”

Hasbullah, 32, said his winning of second runner up will boost his confidence in Indian-Muslim cooking, and this experience will encourage him to participate in more competitions in the years to come.

Other than the Medallion Awards, seven Guests’ Choice Awards were given out. The judges for the awards were randomly selected passengers from not only Malaysia, but also around the world such as Australia, Iran, Pakistan and India. The winners are:

21 August (Amateur Preliminary Round): RM100 and 2D1N high sea cruise package onboard SuperStar Libra for two (Oceanview stateroom with window cabin) each.

    Session 1: Mr. Lim Li Wei, student, Penang’s Golden Chef Culinary Academy
    Session 2: Ms. Kathaye A/P Gopal, housewife

22 August (Professional Preliminary Round): RM100 and 2D1N high sea cruise package onboard SuperStar Libra for two (Oceanview stateroom with window cabin) each.

    Session 1: Mr. Jayaraj A/L Shanmugam, Owner cum Chef, Bountiful Kitchen Restaurant
    Session 2: Mr. Hasbullah Abd Hamid, Assistant Chef of The Cruises Steak House and Mr. Abd Majid Bin Sulaiman , Senior Chef de Partie, Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya, Penang

23 August (Finals): RM300 and 2D1N high sea cruise package onboard SuperStar Libra for two (Oceanview stateroom with window cabin) each.

    Amateur Category: Ms. Kathaye A/P Gopal, housewife
    Professional Category: Mr. Hasbullah Abd Hamid, Assistant Chef of The Cruises Steak House

The Star Cruises Nasi Kandar Cooking Competition 2013 is endorsed by Penang State Tourism and supported by Chefs Association of Malaysia (Penang Chapter) and Malaysian Association of Hotels (Penang Chapter).

During the award presentation, Star Cruises surprised each contestant with a complimentary 2D1N high sea cruise package onboard SuperStar Libra for two (Oceanview stateroom with window cabin) to thank them for their participation. The unexpected announcement further escalated their excitement.

The competition had drawn overwhelming responses since its launch in July 2013. A total of 32 participants (16 from each category) were chosen to compete in the preliminary rounds staged onboard SuperStar Libra on 21 August (Amateur Category) and 22 August (Professional Category) in front of the star-studded panel of judges and cruisers.  The final was staged onboard SuperStar Libra on 23 August.

The winners of The Star Cruises Nasi Kandar Cooking Competition 2013 will be invited to show off their talent onboard SuperStar Aquarius when the ship is on its seasonal deployment at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah starting 6 November 2013, as well as onboard SuperStar Virgo, which currently homeports in Singapore, when it calls in Penang.