Bat­tle in the kitchen

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

Win­tec's top hos­pi­tal­ity stu­dents will go head to head with New Zealand's emerg­ing culi­nary and restau­rant ser­vice su­per­stars at the annual Nes­tle´ Toque d'Or com­pe­ti­tion on July 27.

The team of four sec­ond-year Culi­nary Arts stu­dents will be among 30 com­peti­tors from 10 of the coun­try's lead­ing train­ing in­sti­tutes bat­tling it out at the Auck­land Show­grounds.

Win­tec stu­dent chefs Leslie Kingi and Grace Whit­taker are first-time com­peti­tors, while this will be the third year com­pet­ing for Front of House en­trant Melissa Petrin, who was last year named Waikato Com­mis Chef of the Year.

Remy Flutey is the team's re­serve and will cover any of her three team mates if re­quired.

Win­tec hos­pi­tal­ity tu­tor and head coach for the Toque team, Shan­non Katipa, said the stu­dents were se­lected from an orig­i­nal group of 18 who sub­mit­ted ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est.

From there, a short­listed group of six were re­quired to take part in a mys­tery box-style cook­ing chal­lenge where the fi­nal team was de­cided.

He said he and his two as­sis­tant coaches, fel­low tu­tors Carl Houben and Marco Guimaraes, were con­fi­dent the team was well bal­anced and work­ing hard to pre­pare for the gru­elling com­pe­ti­tion.

Nes­tle´ Toque d'Or, which has been run­ning for over 26 years, is con­sid­ered by those in the in­dus­try to be the premier stu­dent culi­nary and front of house com­pe­ti­tion in New Zealand with the com­pe­ti­tion tak­ing place in a sim­u­lated live kitchen en­vi­ron­ment.

NZ Chefs Na­tional Pres­i­dent and or­gan­iser of the event, Gra­ham Hawkes, said the goal for the stu­dents is to cre­ate and de­liver an award-win­ning menu to spe­cial guests at­tend­ing the event on com­pe­ti­tion day.

“Ten­sions are high and the pres­sure is on through­out to get it right and avoid any costly mis­takes that could lead to lost points.

“The menus the stu­dents cre­ate and de­liver to guests on the day must be as close to per­fect as pos­si­ble, if they want to be named the win­ning team.”

Fur­ther adding to the pres­sure is the fact that menus and ser­vice must be com­pleted within a set time­frame and un­der the watch­ful eye of a panel of top lo­cal and in­dus­try judges as well as event guests.

All of the teams are given a list of in­gre­di­ents in ad­vance that they can use to cre­ate menus that they think will im­press the judges.

“Aside from the highly com­pet­i­tive as­pect, the event also opens doors to new ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties with in­flu­en­tial culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als scout­ing the event for fresh tal­ent,” said Gra­ham.

The win­ning team will be an­nounced at an awards din­ner at the Her­itage Ho­tel fol­low­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.

Photo / Sup­plied

From left, Grace Whit­taker and Leslie Kingi plate up dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion.

Photo / Sup­plied

Melissa Petrin per­fects her ta­ble set­ting skills.

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