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More than 70 hopeful young chefs sweated it out in the NorthTec kitchens when they took part in this year’s Northland Hospitality Championships.
The Apprentice Restaurant at the Raumanga campus was a hive of activity all day, as the contestants from NorthTec hospitality, NorthTec Trades Academy and Kerikeri High School battled for supremacy.
Dishes produced during the day ranged from a salmon-based main meal to a café-style cake, and for the first time in the history of the event, due to the high standards demonstrated, a total of 28 gold medals were awarded.
Two NorthTec students battled it out in a triple-discipline event, involving a salmon dish, live dessert and knife skills challenge, to see who would be crowned Penguin Wholesalers Northland Training Chef of the Year, winning the right to represent the region at the national finals in Auckland in August.
This was a very close contest between Level 4 cookery student Yasmin Bainbridge and Kelvin Deng, studying the Level 5 Diploma in Advanced Cookery. It was neck and neck after the first two disciplines, with Yasmin winning the live dessert and Kelvin taking out the salmon dish, both gaining gold medals. The contest then came down to knife skills, and as it had been throughout the day, it would end being a close finish, with Kelvin pipping Yasmin to the post by just 1.7 points.
National Salon Director, Martin Harrop, who headed the judging panel, said: “Both competitors worked outstandingly under pressure.” He was so impressed that he extended an invitation to both students to compete at the nationals.
Yasmin teamed up with fellow NorthTec Level 4 cookery student, Leah Land, to beat four other NorthTec duos to win the Nestle Professional Magic box team event - a two and a half hour pressure test seeing teams design and cook four portions of a main and dessert from a box of ingredients given to them on the day. The box included a range of Nestle Professional products, including the new range of Chef Concentrate stocks, which teams had to use at least four across the two dishes.
Karl Seidel, Northern region area manager for Nestle, was on hand to help judge and was looking for innovation in how the products were being used, rather than the intended use. The innovation prize was awarded to Yasmin and Leah for the clever way they used the ingredients.
NorthTec’s Trades Academy, for secondary school students studying at tertiary level, also performed exceptionally well, beating Kerikeri High School by a close eight points to be awarded the Regent New World’s Top Secondary Schools Trophy.
Overall NorthTec students landed hauled five bronze medals, 23 silvers and a whopping 17 golds.
NorthTec tutor, NZ Chefs National Vice President and event organiser, Hughie Blues, said: “It was a very busy day and it was a long haul from the start at 5.30am to the prize giving at 6pm. A lot of hard work goes into putting this event on but we are supported well by industry personnel, and the students really embraced it.
“Martin Harrop, the chief judge and National Salon Director, commented that at the Northland event in particular, whānau play such a big part and really support their young people.”
Hughie added: “Northland Hospitality Championships is run by Northland Chefs, the local branch of NZ Chefs. This is the ninth year that the event has been hosted at North Tec, and we would like to take the opportunity to thank our team of sponsors who come back year after year and share the same beliefs we do.”
The sponsors were:
New World Regent
Queenstown Resort College
Barkers Fruit processors
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