Car­pen­ter-turned-chef shines at food show

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

As a bud­ding pro­fes­sional chef, Danny Poul­ter can’t ap­pear on tele­vi­sion’s Masterchef, but he ex­pe­ri­enced the pres­sure of cook­ing in front of an au­di­ence at the re­cent Welling­ton Food Show.

The 22-year-old Whi­tireia Com­mu­nity Polytech­nic cook­ing stu­dent com­peted in a live cook­ery competition at the food show at West­pac Sta­dium.

The 60 com­peti­tors had an hour to cook and plate up their dishes, which were pre­sented to judges for scor­ing.

‘‘I was a bit ner­vous be­fore­hand, but then I just got on with it,’’ Mr Poul­ter said.

This cool attitude paid off, as he walked away with awards for both his dishes, gain­ing a sil­ver for his mush­room soup and bronze for his squid ink tortellini.

The pasta prize was par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing, he said, since he was com­pet­ing in an open cat­e­gory against pro­fes­sional chefs.

He never ex­pected to be­come a cook, hav­ing trained for three years as a car­pen­ter in his na­tive Southamp­ton, Eng­land.

How­ever, as the re­ces­sion hit he could not find a job, and de­cided to shift to New Zealand and en­rol on a pro­fes­sional cook­ery course.

Grow­ing up, he had of­ten made din­ner while his nurse mum and po­lice­man dad worked late, but he was soon to learn how dif­fer­ent home cook­ing was to pro­fes­sional cheff­ing. ‘‘I’d never used a proper knife be­fore,’’ he said. ‘‘I’d never heard of a roux.’’ Even the vo­cab­u­lary used in pro­fes­sional cook­ery was new to him, since kitchen staff use French to de­scribe cuts of meat and types of fish.

While he might not qual­ify for Masterchef, Mr Poul­ter’s train­ing has set him up as an ideal con­tes­tant on an­other pro­gramme, Ready Steady Cook.

Just as on that show, stu­dents on the course are given a ‘‘magic box’’ of mys­tery in­gre­di­ents, which they have to im­pro­vise a dish with.

But for now, Mr Poul­ter is not aim­ing at a tele­vi­sion ca­reer – he hopes to find work as a sous chef at a restau­rant in Welling­ton.

Sharp skills: Award-win­ning stu­dent chef Danny Poul­ter trained as a car­pen­ter in Eng­land, but swapped a saw for a kitchen knife when he moved to Para­pa­raumu.

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