Interview with Hoony Chae – Meadow Fresh New Zealand Latte Art Champion 2019

We interview Hoony Chae after returning from Berlin and the World Latte Art Championship 2019.
You’ve entered the Meadow Fresh NZ Latte Art Championships three times, how did it feel, taking the New Zealand title for the first time?  
I am extremely happy and honoured to be a Champion. When I stood in front of the audience and MC Alan Bruce was about to announce the second place, I felt very nervous and excited to get the results where I thought I could be either the Champion or Runner-up. Then finally MC called out the name for Runner-up, and that was not me, immediately I realised I just became the Champion. I was so pleased to win!  I was also relieved that I did not give up and tried my best for every year. I did have some tears once I become the Champion champion. Straight after the final announcements, I was reminded of all those hours spent practising. I am so glad that I am the Meadow Fresh New Zealand Latte Art Champion for 2019!
Did you feel fully prepared for what the competition would be like at the Worlds given that this was your first time competing at that level? 
I wasn’t feeling fully prepared, but I tried my best to fit into the world stage. Some other competitors had at least three months preparation time and some up to eight months. Physically I only had three weeks preparation time from National Competition. I had never poured with a 600ml jug and a bigger cup as the official cup for the WLAC is 300ml. At the NZLAC, we used 190ml cups and I am always a 400ml jug user. I wasn’t confident with my pours; I have developed my patterns just one week before I flew to Berlin. I was bit stressed in first two weeks preparation time, I did not know what to practice and develop on my patterns. Luckily, I had Team Mojo and Team New Zealand on my back, I could never do it without their help.
Tell us about your feelings on stage? 
My presentation went well but not perfect. Honestly, I can’t really remember what I did on the stage as I was super nervous. I tried my best to calm down, and pretend I was confident on the stage.
When you didn’t get through to the semi-finals, you used your time to help other teams, what did you learn from them? 
I helped out two national champions from Korea and Taiwan. They all went through to the final stage. I learnt how to manage the practice time in the backstage, a competitor needs to plan how they are going to practice, and how to use the time wisely. Mainly focusing on the milk, which reacts differently with standard milk. It is only provided at the backstage of the WLAC and the milk wasn’t selling in a supermarket.
The skill level is incredible, what advice do you have for competitors new to the competition? 
I really recommend reading the rules and regulations for the World and National Championship. You need to study and analyse how to can gain more score for each category.
The NZSCA are pleased to announce that Latte Art Championship Workshops for 2020 are here>
What was the most memorable thing that happened? 
During the semi-final performance, Jervis Tan from Singapore nearly dropped the cup while he was pouring. His fingers slipped but he caught the cup 10 cm below the position that he dropped. All of the audience, judges and competitors were all freaked out!
What was the best thing to come out of your experience in terms of professional development? 
I learnt how I need to develop my preparation time and time management. I really did not think that I have prepared enough for the World stage. If I start to practice for the World while I was preparing National, I think the result might be a bit different than what I got in Berlin.
What would you do differently next time? 
Develop better routines and presentation, I really want to be more organised next year.
Has the experienced encouraged you to compete again, are you going to defend your title again next year? 
I will defend my title again next year I really wish if there is another opportunity to be in the world stage, I would love to try again, with better performance and my signature patterns.
Tickets to the NZLAC 2020 are found here>

During the downtime in Berlin, what exciting coffee/adventures/tourist things did you discover?
Berlin city is rich in history and culture that still remains in today’s times. It was exciting to walk around and see monuments and heritage buildings and learn about Berlin’s vast history.
What’s next for Hoony Chae?
My next step is to be in the final at the World stage. I will prepare creative patterns and use all the things that I have learnt from the world stage experiences
Congratulations Hoony for representing Team New Zealand, we are so proud!
Wanting to attend, volunteer or judge at the NZLAC 2020?  More details here>
Watch the WLAC routines here>