Plan Bs are often taken as a last resort but doing so resulted in a sweet ending for Afiqah Bastrisyia and Rabiatul Adawiyah Radzuan who won UCSI University’s Next Big Chef 2018 grand finale.

Initially planning on a beef-based dish, the duo from SMK Bandar Baru Sri Petaling tore up the script when they concluded that they would struggle with the preparation time.

Their fallback plan: Seafood aglio e olio pasta and strawberry trifle, the latter being a quintessential British cold dessert that passes as a sponge cake with layers of fruit, custard, jelly and cream.

The sugar rush turned the heads of the judges who deemed their trifle to be of the highest quality – the indulgence one would normally find in five-star hotels. Their main dish also received praise but with other teams coming up with their own epicurean delights, there was little to choose from.

“We are in total disbelief now,” said Afiqah after winning the grand prize that comprised bursaries worth RM20,000 from UCSI and RM1,000 cash.

“We certainly did not expect to win today after changing the game plan. In fact, we did not expect to reach the finals as many of the other contestants are really good.

“Changing our original plan was a tough call but we decided that it would take too much time to prepare the main dish well. This competition is a race against the clock too and he had to adapt.”

This year’s Next Big Chef finals carried a western-centric theme that required contestants to prepare the main course and dessert in two hours or less.

Sponsored by Nestlé Professional and Era D Mansion Sdn Bhd, all teams were also required to include Maggi’s mash potato instant mix as part of their final dish.

The Next Big Chef 2018 grand final was adjudicated by Rossham Rusli, the executive chef at Sunway Putra Mall and Mohammad Sabri Abdul Ghafar, the executive chef of O’Coffee Club Kuala Lumpur. They were joined by Loke Hoi Weng, Hanafi Hamzah, Chan Kok Fai and Muhammad Haziq Muizzuddin Jamalullail, chefs from UCSI’s Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Also present at the grand final was Aziah Amir, the head of the academic unit at the education office of Bangsar and Pudu. Hailing the high level of competition, she encouraged the contestants to pursue their passion and hone their culinary craft.  

“If you have a passion for cooking, take it seriously and make it your career path,” she said. “Times have changed and cooking can be a lucrative career if you make your name in the industry.

“I’m sure parents understand this and I hope they do not discourage their children from pursuing culinary art if they are passionate and talented about it.”

The latest edition of UCSI’s Next Big Chef culinary competition drew record numbers with 50 two-man teams from schools across the Klang Valley – up from 20 teams in 2017.

As a result, the competition was broken into two legs, with the top 20 teams advancing to the grand finale.

The following are the complete list of winners from NBC 2018.


SMK Bandar Baru Sri Petaling – Afiqah Batrisyia and Rabiatul Adawiyah Radzuan

First runner-up

Sri Kuala Lumpur International School – Marcus Koay Kah Yan and Ian Wen Her Foong

Second runner-up

SMK Bukit Jalil – Tey ru Yuen and Emi Oni

Best dish award

SMJK(C) Confucian – Lee Wen Long and Tibble Wong Jing Er