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Chefs swap blackboards for chopping-boards

Chefs swap blackboards for chopping-boards

Budding high school chefs from Northland and Canterbury have shown they are ready to take on New Zealand’s culinary profession after being given the opportunity to compete in the upcoming New Zealand Culinary Fare.

Both schools won their respective regional Secondary Schools Challenge cook-offs – organised by New Zealand’s premier training body, the Hospitality Standards Institute. The Secondary Schools Challenge targets college culinarians showing the promise to take on cooking as their chosen career.

In Northland, Okaihau College won the northern regional event held in the kitchens of NorthTec polytechnic in Whangarei. The Okaihau College team duo of Bridie Gillard and Dale Campbell won the competition with their menu of Thai steamed mussels, followed by poached salmon on a herbed polenta cake with spinach and bok choy dressed by a lemon, garlic, tomato and ginger salsa. Their delicious dessert was a lemon grass and orange crème caramel with raspberry compôte and chocolate chilli wontons.

Bridie Gillard is a year-12 student, while Dale is year-10. Teaching staff at Okaihau College supported the pair by allowing them time out of class to practice their dishes. Other competing schools in the Northland final were: Whangarei Girls’ High School, Kerikeri High School, Mangakahia Area School, Dargaville High School, Kaipara College, Pompallier Catholic College, and Tauraroa Area School.

The students have won a $500 scholarship towards tertiary fees at NorthTec, a chef’s knife set, a week’s valuable work experience at the Copthorne Hotel Bay of Islands, and assistance from HSI to attend and compete in the New Zealand Culinary Fare.

Meanwhile, Nelson Boys College won the South Island version of the same competition held during the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology Salon Culinaire in Christchurch.

The highly-contested Secondary Schools Challenge event in Christchurch was won by Nelson Boys' College team duo Damien Young and Leith Hazlitt-Black with the runners-up spot being taken by Joseph McKenzie and Joshua Halkett from Mackenzie College in Central Otago. The other schools in the Hospitality Standards Institute Secondary Schools Challenge were: Burnside High School, Christchurch and Lincoln High School, Christchurch.

Hospitality Standards Institute chief executive Steve Hanrahan said he was now hoping to see the Okaihau College and Nelson Boys’ College teams competing at the Secondary Schools Challenge category during the New Zealand Culinary Fare in October. As part of the competition prize package, HSI covers the costs of flights, entry fee and accommodation for Secondary Schools Challenge winning teams attending this national event in Auckland.

“These regional competitions have provided an exciting opportunity for young people studying hospitality at school to demonstrate the skills they have learnt. I’m sure both the Nelson Boys’ College and Okaihau College teams will be working hard over the coming months to ensure they proudly represent their schools against the best the rest of New Zealand has to offer,” Mr Hanrahan said.

“I also hope these young students will continue their commitment to the hospitality sector and look to pursue professional culinary careers when they leave school. Their passion and dedication are just the sort of commitments this industry needs as it continues to grow,” Mr Hanrahan concluded.


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