11 -12 May 2017 – 52 IMU Dietetics with Nutrition students and 13 IMU Nutrition students had the opportunity to have a practical session with a chef, Chef Ben from Nestle. These students were divided into two groups for two different sessions. Each session further divides the students into 10 and 11 sub-groups. The task given to the students during each session was to prepare fish and shellfish using heat and moist-cooking method. The objectives of this activity are to enhance student’s cooking and hands-on skills under the guidance of a professional chef, to expose the students to the safety measures especially when handling sharp objects like the knife, to examine the appearance and texture of raw and cooked fish, prawn, and surimi, and to equip the students with the necessary skills in the kitchen for their respective future healthcare profession. Other than that, it is more practical and efficient to observe the real hands-on action than just reading from the notes and recipes. Three Nestle recipes which included Pan-Sear Seabass with Tomato Provencal, Garlic Baked Prawn and Steam Prawn were used at these practical sessions. At the same sessions, students are exposed to various methods of cooking such as pan-frying, microwaving and poaching.
During the practical, the students learnt ways of cleaning, gutting, filleting, and cooking a fish, and learnt how to devein, cut, and clean prawns from the chef. The chef also taught the students the proper way of disposing the unwanted parts of the fish in a hygienic manner. From there, students cooked their filleted fish using the three cooking methods. The students also tried preparing surimi through steaming.
After giving the students fillets of fish, Chef Ben demonstrated to the students on how to prepare the Seabass and prawns using the Nestle recipes. They were fascinated by the presentation methods shown by the chef who emphasises on the importance of both taste and appearance in a dish. While the students observed Chef Ben in action, they learnt other general kitchen skills like learning to peel a ginger with a spoon and ways to sharpen a knife. In addition, the students were able to learn the difference between a perfectly cooked fish and an overcooked fish from the chef. After the practical, there were many positive feedback from the students. Many agreed that they appreciated the chef for tolerating them and treating them with patience for their lack of skills in food preparation. The students of Dietetics with Nutrition and Nutrition programmes were happy with the relaxed and fun environment as the chef did not appear to be as intimidating as they thought. Instead, they see him as one of their colleagues. Majority of the students prefer to have a chef to demonstrate the procedures, rather than only referring to the manual without any hands-on guidance.