The Taste of Australia food fair is usually held in several ASEAN countries, and this its third time in Brunei. The main highlight for the event was the Culinary Challenge, where the participants were tasked to prepare a dish using at least one Australian and one Bruneian ingredient or flavour.
As with previous Taste of Australia events, the culinary challenge was divided into three categories – Youth (21 years and under), Open (for all ages) and Culinary students (Institute of Brunei Technical education students). A total of 36 participants from all around the country that joined the competition – each contestant showcasing a unique twist to Australian or Bruneian dishes by incorporating an ingredient from both Brunei and Australia.
Some of the dishes that can be seen are like nasi lemak, pies, and cakes. All of which uses various Australian ingredients such as vegemite or lamb while also incorporating Bruneian elements such as Tahai and Turmeric.
Special for this event is the dishes were judged by Masterchef Australia 2018 winner Sashi Cheliah, who also gave a live demonstration of his own winning dish Sambal Prawn with Crispy Prawn Heads and Herb Salad which scored a perfect 10 during the show.
Other than that, local food blogger, Thanis Lim also judge the contestant dishes. The three main criteria that the dishes were judged on taste, presentation and usage of both Australian and Bruneian ingredients or flavours.
Eventually, the winners of the categories were Ryan Sim with Pandan Gula Melaka Yoghurt Cheesecake (youth category), Mohd Fadhullah Muayyad Abd Majid with Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Broccolini and Mushroom Masak Merah (culinary student) and Nur Haji Mustapa with Nasi Lemak with Lamb Rendang (open category).
The grand prize was won by Dk Fatin Nasibah Pg Dato Seri Pahlawan Aminan with her own unique twist of Aussie Nasi Katok. We managed to catch up with her after the announcement that she won.
“I was discussing with my colleagues who suggested creating a signature local dish with an Australian flavour instead of the opposite, which led to the Aussie Nasi Katok,” said Fatin.
The reason why she used Nasi Katok as the basis of her dish is that it is her favourite local comfort food and she does not know any Bruneian that had not eaten a nasi katok.
Upon receiving the news that she won the grand prize, she said that the realisation had not sunk in and she still could not believe that she won. and it feels surreal to have actually won the competition.
The successful event managed to attract hundreds of people who came to have a taste of the unique dishes made by the participants, while also sampling Australian-made snacks that were featured by vendors during the event. They will be hopeful these kinds of events will continue to foster the love of food between Brunei and Australia.