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NZ-UK Link Foundation Culinary Awards

31 March 2006

NZ-UK Link Foundation Culinary Awards

A Taste of Toast

An adapted version of an award-winning New Zealand venison dish created by young British chef Sophie Wright, was centre of the menu at a NZ-UK Link Foundation dinner for 50, held at Adam Newell's Zibibbo Restaurant in Wellington on Tuesday 28 March.

This 'character-building' exercise showcased the qualities of the young 19 year old final year Professional Chef Diploma student from London's Westminster Kingsway College. It was just one of the tasks that are being thrown her way during her six week long 'busman's holiday' downunder - her prize for winning last year's NZ-UK Link Foundation Culinary Challenge (formerly known as Toast New Zealand) in London.

Working her way round New Zealand, in an itinerary organised by the Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI) - the industry's training organisation - she is learning from some of the best of New Zealand's chefs.

According to the Foundation's New Zealand Management Committee Chairman, Giff Davidson, Sophie handled the task with great competence and, at such a young age, is a "fantastic ambassador" for the future of British cuisine. Her dish 'New Zealand venison with a beetroot puree and celeriac and sweet potato dauphinoise, served with buttered citrus spinach' was described as 'fabulous' by dinner guests. Deer Industry New Zealand provided the venison that was teamed up with a Camshorn Pinot Noir 2004 by Pernod-Ricard New Zealand, the new name for Allied Domecq New Zealand Ltd, which supplied wines matched to each of the four courses.

HSI chief executive Steve Hanrahan says "It is fantastic to see Sophie here in New Zealand. The exchange programme of top cookery apprentices from each country is a great example of the close relationships the New Zealand and UK culinary sectors have."

The modern apprenticeship programme in New Zealand is an ideal career pathway for an aspiring chef, he says. "There are over 270 cookery modern apprentices in New Zealand, working through an intensive three-year programme of workplace learning combined with off-job training modules. The modern apprenticeship programme is a key initiative in ensuring the hospitality industry is developing our industry leaders of tomorrow."

Hanrahan attended the event, along with Kate Flower, the HSI's marketing manager and organiser of the NZ-UK Link Foundation Modern Cookery Apprentice of the Year, the reciprocal New Zealand award won by Carl Wills last year. Celebrity chefs Rex Morgan and Anita Sargeson, both judges for that award, were also at the dinner.

Attended by about 50 Friends of the NZ-Link and hospitality industry leaders, the dinner celebrated the success of the NZ-UK Link Foundation's Culinary Exchange, which sees two young chefs, one from New Zealand and one from the UK, trading places to gain experience working in the other's environment. Founded three years ago by celebrity New Zealand chef Peter Gordon, who is still actively involved, plans are already underway for the 2006 selection processes in both countries.

Sophie will be working alongside Adam Newell on his regular chef spot on TV One's Good Morning Show on next Monday (April 3) at 9.40am.


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