Watching Chanon “Non” Yuyen, Chef de Cuisine at the Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach, carve fruit is a true spectacle. He’s precise, and quickly turns pieces of papaya into floral masterpieces before our eyes.
And now his fruit carving talent has been noticed further afield – he recently won a gold medal in the fruit/vegetable carving challenge at the Thailand Ultimate Chef Challenge 2014, which was held in Bangkok on May 21-25.
He also picked up a silver medal in the “Modern presentation Thai cuisine professional chef” category of the competition for his Phuket crab curry with kanom jean and deep-fried fish and crab souffle. Frustratingly, he was only 0.17 points away from nabbing a gold medal in this category.
For the born and bred Phuketian, the gold prize was a long time coming. He has entered the competition twice before, but managed only silver.
In the fruit-carving competition, he spent three hours slicing watermelon, pomelo, papaya and cantaloupe using a small fruit-carving knife.
“Three hours is such a short time. For example, one watermelon can usually take one hour,” said Chanon, who was previously the head Thai chef at Point Yamu by COMO before he joined Pullman last month.
“I wanted to enter because it is a new challenge for me. When you are a chef, you are doing many of the same dishes every day. This is truly an opportunity to do something new.
“I was so happy. Moreover, I’m very happy for my team. They are the ones who supported me.”
To show his appreciation to the Pullman staff for their guidance, he will spend his B5,000 prize money to buy specialised kitchen equipment for them to use.
Chanon says, “For me, fruit carving is easy because I have been doing it for about 10 years.
“My favourite fruit [to carve] is papaya, because of its colour. You can get different colours in the fruit too – white or pink or green. It can also last a long time; when you carve a papaya it can last one week.”