A Day With Chef Lecturers and Students of the Culinary Line @ KDU University College, DJ

By Elie - 7:54 AM

Sponsored post from Nuffnang! Sweet good God, this is my first ever! *Wipes tears*

Cheery days, fellow Shneeps! Do you remember the days when you were in the final months of your high school moments and somehow colleges all came to you instead of you walking into the place that you liked? Well, I remember that pretty well except I never looked at any of them because I knew where I wanted to go…except it didn’t turn out exactly as planned to date. So while you’re lost, why not I give you a good reason to pick up culinary?

I don’t remember chefs being so happy…or at least my brother isn’t.
Most people would often think that culinary is a child’s play and it’s nothing more than just oil down a frying pan and then placing a piece of meat into it and let it cook. Boy, are they wrong! Having an elder brother as a chef lets me in on a lot about the culinary world where there’s so much more than just a choice of chicken and beef in a chef’s space. And last Thursday, I even had the opportunity to sit with some students pursuing their studies in the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts in KDU University College Malaysia!

That looks too good to be stared at in the middle of the night...
It was a first timer for me to be able to sit next to 4 other bloggers and be offered the chance to interview 2 students and 3 masters of the culinary field all in one day to learn more about the course as well as the amazing collaboration they featured with IMI University College, Switzerland. At about 11am, we were all seated and ready for a venture into a realm I never quite understood.
To begin, we were introduced to Mr. Fami Taufeq, the culinary programme leader and a sous chef, Mr. Maharis Bin Mamat, the chef lecturer and Mr. Gerhard as well as the two students of the hospitality, tourism and culinary arts course, Kar Weng and Leon.  There was even a man in a black coat called Kent but unfortunately, I couldn’t catch his position in KDU although I highly believe that he is someone from the administrative department.
There’s a missing Mr. Fami and blogger Henry in this picture…
We were told that there were various courses that fell under the Hotel, Tourism and Culinary Arts course and that was all so much for us to take in but we did understand that the course was a mirror program to what they would get from IMI University in Switzerland; except it was in Malaysia for a huge fraction of the price.  Soon after, the Q&As from all the bloggers ensued and we shot them endless questions to feed our growing curiosities! Bloggers of the day included Henry, Jessica, Lumi and Cik Lily so enjoy:

Lumi: How does the culinary course really benefit the students of KDU University College?
Mr. Fami: There’s practically more fun in what we learn here at KDU while the students pick up on what they would generally need in their future pathways.
Chef Gerhard: The classes we run focuses mostly on practical training on a 70% to 30% split and the students get to work in the kitchens we have in KDU. There’s even a 6 month practical training for them in the industry; away from the University and they are simply on their own.

You're on your own...

Lumi: Are they any difficulties in your studies? Say if it’s stressful or if it’s difficult for you to grasp?
Kent: There isn’t something that we would call stress in the course…
Chef Gerhard: Stress doesn’t exist in our dictionaries, it something you create yourself. There is no stress, only bad management. What is stress?
Mr. Fami: There genuinely isn’t any stress unless you create it yourself and it just becomes difficult for you to adapt to life.
Kar Weng: Not really, it’s rather fine to be in KDU and taking up this course mainly because there’s much more practical work and it requires mostly discipline anyway. There’s a need for basics before you can start living without the word stress.

What do you mean by stress?

Shneep: Why did you pick out the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts in the end? I mean, surely you have friends in the medicinal or law or engineering path, right? Why be here?
Kar Weng: It’s something that I’ve been doing since my younger days; cooking I mean. So it’s something that I could relate to my childhood and I really like it so why not?
Leon: Cause I like cooking I guess. It’s a passion somehow.
Mr. Fami: Yeah, if there’s a passion in you it just makes the job so much easier.
Mr. Maharis: You really need the passion to be in the culinary line otherwise you’ll just find it so much a burden rather than something you can enjoy.

Mr. Maharis stressing to us that Kar Weng has sufficient passion to partake in competitions all around the world even as a student!

Shneep: What did you family have to say about this path that you’ve chosen? I know some parents out there would much prefer to have a son who’s a doctor or a lawyer or an architect so I really want to know what YOUR parents had to say about culinary as your choice.
Kar Weng: My parents were pretty supportive because it’s what I wanted to do anyway and I’ve been doing little things in the kitchen since I was very young so they are okay with my choice.
Leon: I grew up from a family doing professions like architecture and stuff so when I said that I wanted to take culinary, they were all very supportive and told me to walk a different path from everyone else. It’s great because I’m one of the very few in my whole family doing something completely different.
Mr. Maharis: I think you would generally need a very supportive family if you want to keep yourself going in this course because it would otherwise be difficult for you to go on.

Henry: My dad’s a chef so I really know how it is on this but I just want to know what your family thinks about you not being able to join in with them on special occasions because of your job? Like you can’t be home for Chinese New Year or birthday parties so what’s your take on that?
Chef Gerhard: It’s only normal for a chef when we don’t get home for all these celebrations because we are in an industry where our job is to make people happy but when you’re passionate about your job, seeing someone happy will make you happy too.
Kent: Again maybe like Mr. Maharis mentioned you need a very supportive family because of your job.
Mr. Fami: You would lead a completely different lifestyle in the culinary line actually because you don’t get to be with your family so often and you don’t get that much a regular life with your friends who work 9 to 5 at the office but every day is a new challenge for you to pick up so it’s good as well actually.

“I don’t have a night life! I cook!”

Jessica: We know there’s a lot of TV shows out there showing that the culinary line is fun, something like “masak-masak” so what do you think about that?
Mr. Maharis: People think that the culinary line is just a low life line, like you’re not glamorous, you’re not earning a lot and you’re just there for entertainment, for cooking but in fact they are wrong.
Chef Gerhard: It’s important for people to know that chefs are not just there for entertainment but are actually very highly respected people. You must learn to love your job and be proud of your profession and realize you are not just an entertainment item. Cooking is not like on TV, we don’t go f*** f*** all the time so no, it’s something very serious, not like “masak-masak” at all.

Shneep: I really want to know what your takes are on the global culinary industry right now. Would you say it’s very necessary to have a diploma or a degree to survive?
Mr. Maharis: It’s actually a very competitive line right now and you really need something SPECIAL that makes you stand out away from other people to live in the line. A diploma or a degree isn’t exactly necessary but it is a very good help in the industry.
Mr. Fami: In fact, actually Malaysia has lots of advantages in terms of taste and ready ingredients but we are just neglecting it. We hope more people will start to appreciate the local culinary industry, really.

Shneep: Don’t mind me asking then, why did KDU decide to collaborate with IMI University in Switzerland? Why not a college from the UK or Australia?
Mr. Maharis: We have actually been collaborating with IMI University since the beginning of KDU itself which would make it close to 20 years in our collaboration and we didn’t see a need to change, really. They are in fact one of the top universities in the hospitality, tourism and culinary line with top notch training for all their students and it’s a university with everything nearby; like grocery stores or laundry shops.
Mr. Fami: In Switzerland, it’s pretty difficult to house international students because of the language barrier but IMI University specializes in accepting international students so they are a great choice. They offer accommodation and everything else you would need when you’re alone abroad like a personal academic advisor for times you feel lonely or lost or even stressed there.

All this talking got me thinking of how it could be very interesting to just check out what they do in their daily lives and that was when we were told that KDU actually offers you a one week test out period if you’re not entirely sure about the course where you could simply be slot into a class and feel how it is like to be a student there. There are no restrictions as to when you would join the trial; whether in the beginning of the semester where it’s all calm before the storm or in the middle where it’s tougher than the toughest cookie you could bite into. Best of all, everything is free of charge and all you need is the passion and the courage to step into KDU University College, Damansara Jaya to enquire about it! 

The interview was an overall pleasant one filled with laughters and a complete knack of making me think twice on whatever I would eat from now on. Did the chefs treat the food with as much respect as they do to themselves? I would really hope so, because I sure do respect them a lot now. My brother not included in this phrase. Pfft. I would love to thank Nuffnang for this opportunity to sit down with the students and chef lecturers of KDU as well as everyone who were there to fill our curiosity jar up with complete honesty, wit and a lot of shared passion. All the best in your kitchen adventures, I do hope to feast on something from the students of KDU University College soon.

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  1. that's really pretty good coverage of the interview. If i were given a chance to turn back time, i'll choose culinary instead of what i did...

    1. Hahahaha I might have take up baking actually but then the thought of being fat from eating and tasting everything... xD

  2. Hi there Ellie! I'm Kar Weng from kdu one of the studenta you interviewed that day. I would like to invite you to come and dine for the competition training dinner in Cafe 87. Please give me a call or send me a message if you are interested. I will provide you with more details and info. The dinner is about to end soon as my competition will be in May in Hong Kong. My number is 017-6033688. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kar Weng! Good God, I can't imagine that I have missed out on this comment! Thanks so much for coming by and leaving me this wonderful comment!

      Is your dinner invitation still open? Indeed I would really love to try out the food at Cafe87 and I deeply regret having overlooked this comment.

      All the best for your competition in Hong Kong. I'm sure you would do great and make not just KDU but in fact your whole family proud! :)


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