Chia Feng Tsai
Works at: Feeling 18°C
Qualifiers: selected to represent Taiwan
After graduating from the Nankai University of Technology, Chia Feng Tsai started working in a local bakery shop. But his hunger for knowledge and experience soon led him to take up numerous pastry and chocolate training courses in Tokyo and France. Chia Feng Tsai is currently R&D Chef at Feeling 18°C, a boutique that sells handmade pralines and pastry in Taiwan. In 2013, the pastry chef participated in the Taiwan Gateaux Competition, for which his chocolate showpiece earned him third place, and took the gold at the Taiwan Ice Cream Contest.
With over 13 years of experience in pastry, Chia Feng Tsai is no stranger to the World Chocolate Masters competition either. His participation in the 2013 national qualifying round in Taiwan earned him third place. But this year’s entry didn’t do him any worse: Chia Feng Tsai returned home with the title of 2015 Taiwan Chocolate Master and a spot in the world final.
In the words of Chia Feng Tsai:
Where does my passion for chocolate stem from?
By working at Feeling 18°C chocolate. The slogan of the company is: ‘connect happiness and share love’, a motivation that matches well with my own. To me, chocolate is about passing on enthusiasm and happiness, narrowing the distance between people and creating joy with cheerful desserts. Whenever I see someone eating my chocolate creations and expressing satisfaction, I feel really moved. Chocolate is also a form of constant self-challenging, hoping to create more varieties of chocolate to satisfy any palate.
Why do I participate in the World Chocolate Masters?
I’ve been in the chocolate business for nearly eight years now and during that time I accumulated quite a lot of experience. I also learned a lot from chocolate masters around the world and the World Chocolate Masters constitute a well-known high-level challenge. Participating in challenging competitions like this enables me to learn from other chefs from all over the world. This is what encouraged me to participate, and I strongly hope to learn inspirational new techniques and gain some creative ideas. But most importantly, I want to stand on that dream podium, fulfil my long-time goals and transcend myself.
How do I prepare for the World Chocolate Masters?
In addition to collecting relevant information from many different sources, I also re-examine my technique to identify the constraints that I still have to work on. Constant repetition strengthens my technique and I’m also incorporating some typical Taiwanese ingredients and their characteristics to promote them among the people that probably don’t know them yet. I embrace suggestions and opinions in order to perfect my creations, and I’ll gladly introduce Taiwan to the world.
How do I plan on convincing the jury members?
Every chef that has been selected to participate in the world final has already proven to excel in artistry with chocolate, so I want to highlight my ‘work features’ and ‘storytelling’. My competition creations will all have characteristic flavours, and I’ll introduce the ideas and processes behind them so the jury has a good grasp of the details that make up my chocolate products. I’ll also explain how I incorporated high-quality, local Taiwanese ingredients into my creations and how I want to inspire them with different chocolate sensations.
What do I hope to learn from this experience?
I want to win this contest. So I’m going to give it my all, but I’ll inevitably encounter some bottlenecks along the way. I’ll adjust my pace through constant practice and growing frustrations. I hope to discover new forms of technology, and learn from the skills, work methods and creative ways of thinking of the other participants. It will stimulate my international point of view, an experience that can’t be bought.
The support I received from my team was also a big encouragement, and gave me the chance to improve my communication and cooperation skills. I speak for all of us when I say that participating in this challenging and passionate competition is a great honour.