Vegetables shine at culinary competitions
A team from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua fought off fierce competition from around the country to win the top award in the prestigious annual Nestlé Toque d’Or student culinary competition.
The teams had to produce a petite salad, an Akaroa salmon entrée, followed by a New Zealand prime lamb, kumara and fresh vegetables main. The menu concluded with a dessert featuring Nestlé Professional products.
Culinary students Mikael ArangaPapuni and Bethaney-Mae Allen proved to be champs in the kitchen picking up gold medals, while Michael Takiwa dazzled diners at the event with top notch restaurant service skills to receive a silver medal. The trio battled it out against 27 other top students from around the country to create their winning three course menu which took out the top spot at the competition. Out front, Michael served up the dishes to guests dining at the event.
This is the first time that the award has gone to Toi Ohomai in Rotorua.
The pressure was on throughout the three-hour live kitchen cook off, as the team fought against the clock and under the scrutiny of top industry judges including WorldChefs President Thomas Gugler of Germany. The panel of judges was led by high profile chef and leading culinary figure Darren Wright of Christchurch. Competing teams were marked against World Association of Chefs International Judging Standards which include food preparation, presentation, taste and service.
Bethaney-Mae said she and her team mates were ecstatic to have won the competition, after training so hard for it.
“We spent months coming up with an award-winning menu, perfecting our routines and putting it all into action. On top of that, we had to manage study and work commitments but the result we’ve achieved has been well worth the effort.”
The team’s trainer Jonathan Chemis said bringing home the top award is a triumph not only for the students and the Toi Ohomai Institute but also for Rotorua.
“It clearly demonstrates that we have the talent and skills in hospitality in the Rotorua area. This win firmly puts Toi Ohomai on the culinary _________________________
map and provides the region with an opportunity to showcase its expertise to the rest of the country and even overseas. Achieving top ranking at such a prestigious competition as Nestlé Toque d’Or is a significant milestone. For these students and others who follow in their footsteps at Toi Ohomai, rewarding careers within the hospitality are now easily within reach,” he said.
Event organiser and New Zealand Chefs Association President Graham Hawkes said Nestlé Toque d’Or is the ultimate challenge for hospitality students.
“They have to pull it all together, work seamlessly as a team and deliver a polished performance on the day while under pressure.
“Aside from the competitive element, the event also opens doors for the students by placing them in front of hospitality professionals from around New Zealand who attend it.”
This year was the 27th anniversary of Nestlé Toque d’Or which is New Zealand’s longest running and most
prestigious student cookery and restaurant service event. Aside from New Zealand, it is also held in 17 other countries around the world and has launched the careers of many world-famous chefs.
▴ Left to right: Michael Takiwa, Bethaney-Mae Allen and Mikael Aranga-Papuni, from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
▶ The winners plate up their main dish.