About Battle of The Chefs – A Brief History

The inaugural “Battle of the Chefs” was held in July 1988 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Penang (previously Traders Hotel and now Hotel Jen). It started with the participants of only 60 chefs from mostly hotels in Penang. Judges were sourced locally. At the end of the competition, 8 Gold, 26 Silver and 16 Bronze were awarded.

Despite this humble beginning, this biennial event witnessed a dramatic jump in the number of participants when it was held in 1990. A total of 165 chefs “gladiators” congregated in the Geodesic Dome of Komtar to pit their skills and culinary wizardry for honour and fame. The competitors had taken 24 Gold, 32 Silver and 43 Bronze medals. The younger chefs were the ones walked away with the most number of golds!

When it came to the 3rd “Battle of the Chefs” held in 1991, the number of participants again jumped to 198 and 21 Gold, 55 Silver and 58 Bronze medals were awarded. A testimony of improvement and increase awareness, no less, of event itself and all the hard work paid off.

A great turning point came about when the 4th “Battle of the Chefs” held in June 1993. The World Association of Cooks Societies, State Government of Penang, among many other associations and bodies extended their endorsement to the event. Eventually, the “Battle of the Chefs” has taken a new identity – Penang International Salon Gastronomique.

The 5th and 6th Penang International Salon Gastronomique set a record of 278 participating chefs from all over the Asian region, reflecting the enthusiasm among the regional culinary circle. With this influx of culinary professionals from neighbouring nations the standard of the competition can only reach a higher level.


The 7th Penang International Salon Gastronomique again achieved 3 “first”s.

  • The event being moved to the premier venue for events and exhibitions – Penang International Sports Arena (PISA)
  • The incorporations of SAJIAN 99, the brainchild of YB Dato Kee Phaik Cheen, the Hons. Advisor to Chefs Association of Malaysia, Penang Chapter and Penang State EXCO for Tourism. The SAJIAN is an expo for exhibition of traders related to the Food and Beverage industries. It provides excellent opportunities for the Hospitality industry related business to showcase their products and services.
  • The other first being the introduction of Live Hot Cooking Competition, upon the overwhelming demand from the contestant! In all, 15 Gold, 58 Silver and 87 Bronze medals were awarded.


As for the 8th and 9th Penang International Salon Gastronomique, the combined number of competitors from the Live Hot Cooking, exceeded 115, beyond our wildest expectations, so much so that it has to be held throughout the 3 days and at separate sessions! This salon sees a record of 300 eager chefs “gladiators” with 500 entries battling out in this competition.As the event expanded over the years, the 10th Battle of the Chefs in 2005 was held at the resort hotel of Park Royal in Batu Ferringhi. The 11th BOTC took placed at another resort hotel in 2007 at the Bayview Beach Resort with an overwhelming participation of over 800 entries for this competition.

With the encouraging response from both domestic and international participation in 2009, the 12th Battle of the Chefs was returned to the Penang International Sports Arena with a competition arena of more than 10,000 sq feet to battle it out.

The 13th and 14th Battle of the Chefs were held at the newly opened Straits Quay Convention Centre as the Penang International Sports Arena was under refurbishment and renovation. Over the years, together with the Malaysian Association of Hotel, MAH-Penang Chapter, has jointly organized Hospitality Challenge such as Waiter’s Race, Bed-Making Competition, Team Table Setting Challenge, Fruit Flambe Challenge and Flair King & Mixology Competition.

The event has grown to a recognised World Association of Chefs Continental status and in 2014 with an overwhelming entry exceeding 1,500 entries; it’s only a logical choice to relocate the 15th edition of the Battle of the Chefs back to Penang International Sports Arena which is now re-named as SPICE Arena, the “Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre”.