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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject: Paetenians Chefs turn artists to compete

Rovart Cagayat and Jayson Cueto appear like many of the junior chefs competing at the Junior Chef Awards during the third week of Food Surprises at Dubai Festival City. The only difference being, Rovart and Jayson are not into cooking but carving. Ice carving and cake decoration specialists, the two artists are competing to showcase their distinctive abilities at the most spectacular event of Food Surprises this year.

A member of the team that won the gold medal in group ice carving and a silver medallist in fruit and vegetable carving in the 2006 Junior Chef Awards, Rovart is aiming higher this year. The talented artist has been at the Radisson SAS for two years now, having worked at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Philippines for almost three years. He says he loves his work and looks forward to the Junior Chef Awards because it provides him a chance to exhibit his talents.

"I'm more of an artist than a chef but I love food and making it look good is my passion now. Ice carving looks easy but it takes a lot of patience, effort, and concentration. One small mistake can mean the end of your participation so luck also plays an important part," he says.

The results are still pending for ice carving and Rovart is aiming for a gold medal in the fruit and vegetable carving to better his position from last year. It is interesting to note that this young decorator also does carving on wood and chocolate. He attributes his talent to the surroundings of his native home town of Paete Laguna in Philippines.

Paete is a lakeside town located at the northeastern part of Laguna, along the shores of picturesque Laguna de Bay. The town was made famous by craftsmen highly skilled in woodcarving and its embellishment and even today, its inhabitants continue with their centuries-old tradition in carving and painting. The town was proclaimed 'the Carving Capital of the Philippines' in March 15, 2005 by Philippine President Arroyo.

The inherited art was evident in Rovart's ice sculpture at the competition. Unlike usual ice carving artists, Rovart's 'Child on an Eagle' displayed at Dubai Festival City was made of three separate pieces of ice carved from one ice block. The base of the sculpture formed the main part, after which the wing of the eagle was delicately balanced. This seemed precarious enough but the confident artist went on to place a child carved in ice atop the now finished eagle. As anxious crowds watched, the completed carving stood perfectly still on a narrow base and Rovart seemed satisfied with his effort.

"I was a bit apprehensive of this balancing thing but I'm relieved the carving is over. The satisfaction in completing a carving is when people come up and tell me how beautiful my work is and that encourages me to try new ideas in ice," he said.

Jayson Cueto, another native of Paete Laguna, Advertisement
displayed some fine skills in the fruit and vegetable carving category with his creation titled 'Dragon Horse'. Carved out of pumpkin, this young artist has been with the Al Qasr in Madinat Jumeirah for the past one-and-a-half years. A gold medallist in the pastry showpiece and a silver medal winner in the chocolate carving category this year, Jayson is well known in the hotel industry for his able hands, having again won a gold medal in pastry showpiece, and three bronze medals for ice carving, chocolate carving, and a team event at the 2007 Emirates International Salon Culinaire, another respected culinary event in the country.

"Carving and food decoration are my passion and events like the Junior Chef Awards are an important avenue to display what I love doing most. Every carving is a new creation that requires a combination of speed, skill, and concentration. The pumpkin carving took me six hours to complete and I hope to win a gold medal for it. Winning is important but crafting a perfect piece of work is more important to me," says Jayson.

Today (July 11) is the last day to watch some exciting cooking demonstrations at the Junior Chef Awards as the third week of Food Surprises comes to an end. The Dubai Festival City is a must-visit for families and food enthusiasts today where visitors can watch chefs compete from 2pm to 10 pm and the crowning of the 2007 Middle East Junior Chef of the Year.

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