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.

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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.

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