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Top Young Chef In New Zealand

Top Young Chef In New Zealand

Seven top young apprentice chefs, from Christchurch to Auckland, competed to find the Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI) Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year, on Friday 25th July at AUT, Auckland.

The Winner of the Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year title is Craig Crocombe from the Duxton Hotel Wellington, working under Executive Chef Frank Prskawetz. Craig has just turned 21, and has been with the Duxton throughout the 1½ years of his apprenticeship. His Chef travelled with him to support him in the competition in Auckland.

World renowned, New Zealand born chef, Peter Gordon, was one of an eminent panel of judges to judge the best Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year. Peter Gordon travelled from London to be a judge and a keynote speaker at the first National Hospitality Training Conference on the 26th July.

Peter Gordon said the apprentices were really good, talented people. “I was really impressed with the skills they showed. It was quite encouraging - people talk about there being a skills shortage in the calibre of young chefs– but when I looked around at these young people I thought there really is no shortage. One of the things that heartened me was that they all appreciated and had respect for their Head Chefs - it is great to see that the knowledge is being passed on.”

As “Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year”, Craig Crocombe has won a six-week trip to the UK, to work with some of the best chefs in the World. He will be hosted by the British Guild of Chefs, which has been organised by Peter Gordon and is funded by the NZ-UK Link Foundation.

Steve Hanrahan, Acting Chief Executive of the HSI, says Peter Gordon is a strong supporter of the New Zealand hospitality industry through the NZ-UK Link Foundation, which exists to promote educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The 4 finalists in the competition were;

* Andrew Van Lent, - Sky City Auckland . Executive Chef: Warren Bias. At 18, Andrew was the youngest competitor in the competition. He is 2 ½ years into his apprenticeship and was part of the team that won Gold in the “Junior Team Skills - Kitchen” competition at the Salon Culinaire in 2002. * Nikola Harlick - Sky City Auckland, Executive Chef Warren Bias. Nikola is 19 years old and has been in her apprenticeship for around 2 ½ years - all with Sky City. She entered and won Gold in the Chocolate Fantasy and Bronze in the Cold Dessert Static competitions at the Salon Culinaire last year. * James Croat - Millennium Hotel Christchurch - Executive Chef: Andrew Brown. James is 21 years old and started his apprenticeship at a local café in Christchurch. He is the only South Island representative in the competition. He is now at the Millennium and has the President of the Canterbury Chef’s Association as his Head Chef (Andrew Brown). His Executive Chef and Sous Chef supported him at the competition. * and Craig Crocombe, who was the winner.

The apprentice chefs were judged on a range of things, including their presentation, composition, balance, control of cooking, portion sizes and the suitability of their choice of dish for the marketplace. They were also judged in interviews on having the personality, maturity, communication skills and knowledge of the New Zealand Hospitality industry to be able to represent New Zealand in the United Kingdom.

The eminent panel of judges included icons of the New Zealand and UK restaurant scenes; Peter Gordon, Judith Tabron, Tony Adcock and Steve Thompson.

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