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NZ-UK Link Foundation Culinary Awards

10th March 2006

NZ-UK Link Foundation Culinary Awards

Chef Newell Lends A Hand

New Zealand chef and restaurateur Adam Newell of Wellington’s Zibibbo Restaurant is one of several top Kiwi chefs giving their time and expertise to a young British chef, winner of the NZ-UK Link Foundation’s Culinary Award.

Sophie Wright, 19, of Westminster Kingsway College in London arrived at the beginning of this month to start a five week working tour of some of New Zealand’s top restaurants, her prize for winning the award after competing against nine other young chefs in the competition theatre at the Restaurant Show in London last September.

She started in Auckland and has already tucked working for Judith Tabron at the Soul Bar & Restaurant under her belt and has moved to Warren Bias at Sky City Restaurant. She will be working for Rex Morgan at Citron and Michelin-starred Adam Newell at Zibibbo Restaurant in Wellington, then moving to Philip Kraal at Le Bon Bolli in Christchurch and, lastly, Jason Dell at Blanket Bay in Glenorchy.

“It’s really important for a young chef to learn as much as they possibly can about different styles of cooking and ingredients,” says Newell, adding that he is delighted to be supporting the initiative through the work placement at Zibibbo.

“This competition offers the chance of a lifetime for up-and-coming young New Zealand and British chefs at the start of their career to experience working in the other’s country and to gain inspiration and direction from experienced chefs.”

Sophie shows a great deal of future promise in the British restaurant scene. Having secured this award, she’s been keeping herself busy by very recently landing an elusive gold medal for her fish platter in one of the Junior Salons within the Salon Culinaire at London’s Hotelympia trade show.

It won’t the last you hear of her – or this award.

Peter Gordon, the world-renowned New Zealand celebrity chef, has had a hand in the Foundation’s Culinary Award in Britain since its very early days and the British Craft Guild of Chefs organise the logistics of the competition in the UK.

Gordon flew over to take part in the judging panel that selected Sophie’s opposite number, Carl Wills - the New Zealand winner of the 2005 NZ-UK Link Foundation Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year category in the Hospitality Standards Institute Annual Excellence in Training awards. The HSI is the hospitality industry training organisation here in New Zealand.

Wills recently finished his six weeks work experience in the UK at Providores, the Fat Duck at Bray, the Savoy Grill and Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons positively fizzing with ideas and enthusiasm and said he has become a more confident and dedicated chef as a result. Formerly with Sail Rock Café in Mangawhai Heads, Northland, he is now working in Peter Gordon’s Providores & Tapas Room in London.

Winners in previous years from New Zealand are Logan Turner and Craig Crocombe, from Britain Mark Dixon and Eddie Raines. Arrangements for the 2006 competitions at both sides of the world are already underway.

The NZ-UK Link Foundation’s aim is to enhance the links between New Zealand and the UK through a series of vocational, educational and cultural fellowships and exchanges. In addition to this culinary exchange, teachers, insurance industry professionals, opera singers and artists are among recent recipients of awards. Over 200 individuals have been helped since its establishment in the early 1990s.


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