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SKYCITY produces NZ’s top hospitality apprentices

Date: 10 July 2008

SKYCITY produces NZ’s top hospitality apprentices

Thomas Townsend and Ben Doughty of SKYCITY Auckland are New Zealand’s top hospitality apprentices after proving they can handle the heat in the national annual Modern Apprentice of the Year competition.

Organised by the Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI), the national competition saw eight selected apprentice chefs and eight selected food and beverage apprentices compete for their respective Modern Apprentice of the Year titles in Wellington on Monday.

Thomas was named winner of the prestigious NZ-UK Link Foundation Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year, and Ben the Southern Hospitality Food and Beverage Modern Apprentice of the Year at HSI’s national conference.

Thomas designed a three-course menu based on a set list of ingredients and then cooked to that menu within three hours. His winning meal was a pan-seared salmon entrée with roasted pepper sauce followed by a main course of oven roasted lamb rack with roasted kumara, buttered leeks and sautéed carrots, with an oyster mushroom jus. His dessert, described by the judges as faultless, was a chocolate bavois with blueberry compote, a poppy seed tuile and mascarpone sauce.

SKYCITY Executive Chef Mark Wylie was thrilled with the result. “We’re incredibly proud of both SKYCITY chefs Giann Ordanio and Thomas Townsend who took part and we are really pleased that Thomas won. This continues an excellent run of success for SKYCITY in these awards - over the past six years the competition has run, SKYCITY chefs have won the title three times.”

As winner of the NZ-UK Link Foundation award, Thomas will receive a six-week work experience placement in England organised by Kiwi restaurateur Peter Gordon, including a week in Gordon’s popular London restaurant The Providores and more than £3,000 to cover expenses.

Thomas is inspired by the opportunities the prize will bring him. “This is the highlight of three years’ hard training. The prize is amazing and changes everything – my career and life will change for the better,” he says.

He’s also grateful to his employer. “The chefs at SKYCITY Auckland were behind me one hundred percent, helping with my training. The apprenticeship scheme is the best thing out there for young chefs with the opportunity for on-the-job training. HSI has also been supportive and it’s great that they provide these opportunities.”

Chief judge Anita Sarginson says that the overall standards from both the Modern Apprentices and the HSI trainers show a true pursuit of excellence. “The judging team deliberated for 45 minutes which shows how tight the standard of competition was being presented for judging,” she says.

The Southern Hospitality Food and Beverage Modern Apprentice of the Year competition was an equally challenging section, with competitors setting and serving a table based on a three-course set menu including a silver service main, then competing in a blind wine evaluation challenge.

As New Zealand’s top Food and Beverage apprentice, Ben receives a trip to an Australian wine-growing region of his choice with $1,500 towards flights and accommodation.

Ben has been training as an apprentice for one-and-a-half years and has spent the last three months preparing for the HSI competition. He says the apprenticeship scheme has been a great path to follow for his career. “SKYCITY Auckland has been very supportive throughout my time here. I recommend hospitality to anyone considering it. Give it a go! You become passionate about your job; you meet some amazing people and see some amazing dishes prepared,” he says.

HSI Chief Executive Steve Hanrahan is very pleased with the calibre of apprentices coming through the programme. “The Modern Apprenticeship programme is one of the premium qualification pathways for hospitality careers. We are very pleased that these people often become the industry leaders of the future.”

As the hospitality industry’s training organisation (ITO), HSI leads access to training and qualifications for the hospitality industry including overseeing, supervising, assisting and reviewing all nationally recognised training for chefs, waiters, baristas, bar persons, porters, hotel receptionists, room-attendants, house-keepers, supervisors and managers.
HSI also provides support and guidance to schools, polytechnics and providers that teach and assess Unit Standards through hospitality courses.

Competition finalists were:
NZ-UK Link Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year:
Samuel Ward - Millennium Hotel, Christchurch
Giann Ordonio - SKYCITY, Auckland
William Lauder - The French Café, Auckland
Chris Miriams - Huka Lodge, Taupo
Simon Hoffman - Wine Chambers, Auckland
Thomas Townsend - SKYCITY, Auckland
Paul Ansell - Logan Brown, Wellington
Heath Naylor - Vintners Hotel, Marlborough

HSI Food and Beverage Modern Apprentice of the Year:
Brendan Verry - Millennium Hotel, Christchurch
Belinda Climo - Rydges Hotel, Christchurch
Allan Gifford - Bayview Wairakei Resort, Taupo
Shaun Kleynhans - Wellington Convention Centre, Wellington
Latham Lockwood - Hotel Coachman, Palmerston North
Christina Harwood - Ma Maison Restaurant, Akaroa
Ben Doughty - SKYCITY, Auckland
Regan Struthers - Soul Bar & Bistro, Auckland


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