Write a story of a small town girl who worked hard to become a successful chef. Begin your story with: “She has used the last of her savings to get to the cooking competition
in the big city and ...”

- by Brian Shu Pui Hong
SMK Sungai Maong,
Kuching, Sarawak

She has used the last of her savings to get to the cooking competition in the big city and she has tried her best to emerge victorious. It is all up to the professional judges now. While waiting for the announcement of the result, very second seems like an eternity. She could feel her heart drumming against her ribs due to her anxiety, and has even started to think whether she could accept the fact if she fails in this competition. Just then, the magnified voice of the announcer makes her jump. She hears her name, and out of the blue, the hall is filled with tumultuous applause. She actually wins! She is going to be crowned ‘Best Chef of The Year’ in her own right! After the glittering trophy is handed over, she recounts her past endeavours, and tears of gratitude fall.

Eileen, who hailed from a suburb, dreamt of becoming a successful chef. Money became her first concern when she first moved to the big city. However, she knew that if she persevered, she would eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel. With that in mind, she worked as a cleaner and a waiter in order to build up experience. When she was still raw, managers kept going ballistic and referred to her as ‘the gormless girl’ because she was slow and jerky in performing her tasks. Bombardments notwithstanding, she persevered and deemed it necessary for her to be a fully-fledged culinary professional in times to come.

In the midst of her journey towards success, she was struck by the bad news of her mother’s death due to terminal illness. Her mother no longer had the chance to see her daughter’s dream come true, while the daughter held her hand and told the world this is her mother. All of these seemed to be a million miles away then. Eileen felt her heart being torn apart beyond the point of repair. Her working capability was greatly disrupted by the mourn, as she felt that even the silver lining of the cloud had disappeared. The manager was more impatient and irascible than ever when Eileen made mistakes in every possible occasion. Eventually, she was fired when she, being in her hopeless and forlorn state, spilled a pot of freshly cooked soup onto fellow workers. Being rendered jobless, she was broke. She could not afford even the rent and was consequently exiled as a tenant. For some days, she slept on the five-foot ways and under the staircase of shophouses on makeshift beds.

Eileen was lucky to have her former colleagues. They offered her a place to stay, with the proviso that she would get a grip on herself and move on. Thanks to their kindness and encouragement, she managed to come to terms with the bereavement. She decided that strong people should not dwell on the past and wallow in despair; they move forward for the better. She found a new job and strove harder than ever. Due to her natural talent, she shone in cooking. Soon, her efforts and skills received attention and praise from her new manager. She was promoted to an assistant in the kitchen. Things started to fall into place as she was introduced to works with a higher level of difficulty. Her skills were greatly honed as she imbibed knowledge and practical skills from the main cook.

The day that marked the watershed moment of Eileen’s life came most unexpectedly on a mesmerising, peaceful sundown. The main chef got home earlier as he had come down with the flu. She was asked to inform the customers that the dishes from the main chef was unavailable. All of a sudden, a customer in a black suit walked in briskly. He ordered a dish which was not found on the menu – Taste from Heaven. Eileen’s jaw dropped. She felt her heart skip a beat. For a fraction of a second, she stood rooted to the ground, undecided. The next moment, she instinctively asked for some clues from the customer. After a minute’s brainstorming session, she started cooking! Little did she know where her courage had come from as she was well aware that the reputation of the restaurant was banking on her performance.

Every drop of blood seemed to curdle in Eileen’s veins as the customer slowly tasted her cooking. Before she knew it, the customer had wolfed down all his food and paid for it. The next day, Eileen had the feeling she could no longer tolerate any more shock when she learnt that customer was the CEO of an international business group as well as a good friend of the main chef. The Taste from Heaven, which was meant to spoof the chef, had instead put Eileen to the test. He explained that Eileen had a potential to become a chef, and he could use her in one of his chain restaurants. He further expressed that Eileen could realise her full potential through undergoing professional training. Deeply impressed by her skills, he offered her a scholarship to study in one of the top culinary arts school in France! She was also offered a 5-year employment contract with the business group upon graduation.

Eileen was on cloud nine. She could not believe that Lady Luck had smiled upon her. She accepted both offers. However, she was never one to be on her high horse as she knew that pride comes before a fall. She worked hard doing the 4-year course offered by the school, which was located in close proximity to Paris, and graduated with a first-class honours degree. Before returning to Malaysia to fulfil her contract, she had an opportunity to participate in a world-class cooking competition in Paris. As days of sweats and tears passed, she finally managed to have herself qualified for the final of the championship and the rest is history.

Eileen’s hard work and determination have helped to fulfil her aspiration – to be a successful chef! Now, she brings joy to this world with her dishes, as everyone cheers for her – the small town girl who persevered and created miracles with her bare hands.

*By SPM standards, this essay is a bit lengthy. Nevertheless, it still gives you an idea how to write the essay. Stay tuned for a shorter version.