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Three chefs in cook off for $10,000 award

Media release:
10 March 2014


Ōra King Chef’s Bursary
Three chefs in cook off for $10,000 award

Talented young chefs from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have been chosen as the three finalists in the inaugural Ōra King Chef’s Bursary to be decided in Auckland on March 18.

The finalists are Carlita Campbell from Cobar Restaurant in Wellington, Krishnil Dutt from Auckland’s Masu Japanese Robata Restaurant & Bar and Scott Gibbs from Christchurch restaurant Tequila Mockingbird.

The aim of the Ōra King scholarship is to help nurture up-and-coming chefs and provide the recipient with a taste of the world via a $10,000 travel and work grant in the country of his or her choice.

Carlita Campbell (21), a chef de partie, is originally from Christchurch and has had a passion for cooking from a young age, bolstered after she won a gold medal at her first competition aged 12. Since then she has won 26 medals and has a place on the Youth Culinary Team.

Should Carlita be awarded the Ōra King scholarship she plans to test her skills in London “where hard chefs are made” with a work placement at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant, The Berkley and also some work at Theo Randall Park Lane Intercontinental.

Krishnil Dutt (26) is a junior sous chef who spent his formative years in Fiji where he started cooking for his family at the age of 11. His passion for seafood led to a career in the hospitality industry in Fiji and Rarotonga, before arriving in New Zealand in 2011.

Krishnil has been fascinated by Japanese food since his first taste of sushi and on his trip would immerse himself in Japanese culture, people, places, restaurants and markets in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. He plans to meet world renowned sushi chef Sukiyabashi Jiro, and visit several factories including the Ozeki sake factory. Krishnil has received the Bronze Medal at the NZ Culinary Fare in both 2012 and 2013.

Scott Gibbs (28) is a sous chef who was born and raised on a sheep and beef farm in the central North Island. Scott grew up working on farms, studied agriculture and graduated with honours from the Texas Culinary Academy.

He would use his $10,000 bursary to travel to Argentina to gain a broader knowledge of the cuisine and culture, working at top Buenos Aires restaurants, Aramburu and Tomo1. He would then go on to explore the traditional “asado” method with farmers on the plains of Las Pampas, and the cevicherias of Mar Del Plata.

The finalists were selected by culinary industry leaders Cuisine editor Sarah Nicholson, president of NZ Guild of Food Writers Trudi Nelson, Restaurant Association of New Zealand CEO Marisa Bidois and Ōra King’s Jemma McCowan.

Ms McCowan says the entries were all of a very high standard making judging on paper extremely difficult.

“Every candidate had something of interest but in the end those chosen had creative and well thought-out proposals with dishes that had impact on the judges.

“Good solid work experience and recommendations from the applicants’ head chefs were also important. When it came down to the final decision, we looked for applicants who we could really help to develop from the bursary experience.”

Ms McCowan says each has the ability to translate his or her offshore bursary experiences into benefits for the wider industry.

“We can see from the effort they have put in to their application that each is dedicated and passionate about cooking. No matter who is awarded the bursary, he or she will be an excellent ambassador both for Ōra King and the New Zealand foodservice industry,” she says.

Carlita, Krishnil and Scott compete for the award on March 18 in Auckland. They will prepare and plate their self-created Ōra King dish in front of the judging panel and Ōra King ambassador chef Mark Southon from The Food Store. A panel interview will be the final process in deciding the bursary recipient.

The winner will travel to his or her chosen destination between April and June and is required to blog regularly about the trip.

The finalists’ self-designed dishes are:

• Carlita Campbell: Beetroot cured Ōra King Salmon on beurre noisette rye crumbs with pickled golden beets and vanilla mayonnaise
• Krishnil Dutt: Robata grilled, hatcho miso marinated Ōra King salmon with roasted massago and sesame crust, ginger, apple, coriander and chilli salad.
• Scott Gibbs: Ōra King Salmon Trio comprising spiced crispy skin fillet, belly ceviche ‘wrap’, blue corn crusted tequila cured cheek, whipped avocado, lime gel, cucumber and mango salad.

ends

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