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Top cookbooks take a bow

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-06 08:05

Flavors of Indonesia: William Wongso's Culinary Wonders wins the Gourmand International's 2017 best cookbook award in Yantai, Shandong province. Photos provided to China Daily

China hosts the Gourmand International awards for the fifth time, honoring books, chefs, TV hosts and more. Mike Peters reports in Yantai, Shandong.

William Wongso seems like a chef in a war zone. Peppered with the pops and splatters of boiling coconut milk, however, Wongso is unfazed and relaxed.

"You need high-fat coconut milk to cook down for this," he says to a cooking assistant pulled from the crowd, who is trying to dodge the searing drops. "You want it to caramelize while the meat is cooking. And no, the fire is not too high.

"Good coconut cream will explode like a volcano, or a lover, when the heat from the oil is right," he grins as the air fills with the scents of fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fresh turmeric and a flotilla of other spices bobbing in the bubbling broth.

Everyone nods sagely. After all, who's going to argue with the winner of Gourmand International's 2017 best cookbook award?

Meeting in Yantai in Shandong province the night before, the culinary society had crowned Flavors of Indonesia: William Wongso's Culinary Wonders ($29.95, Bab Publishing Indonesia, available on Amazon) and bestowed dozens of other awards on cookbooks, chefs and TV presenters.

"This event started as a joke at the Frankfurt Book Fair," says a smiling Gourmand International founder Edouard Cointreau. "We wanted place where we could drink Champagne with the foodie crowd at the fair."

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