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Invercargill local takes out culinary title

News release

October 8, 2006

Invercargill local takes out national culinary title

An Invercargill student has been crowned New Zealand's top secondary school chef after a heated culinary competition in Auckland today (October 8).

17-year-old Gary Hughes of Southland Boys was announced the winner of the College Challenge at the Culinary Fare after producing the best salmon dish of all 28 competitors.

Gary wins a $5,500 educational scholarship from Auckland Hotel and Chefs' Training School and his school receives a trophy which it keeps for a year.

Runner-up was Niels Naumann from Long Bay College in Auckland. Naumann receives a set of Victorinox Swiss Knives and tools courtesy of the Chef Shop.

The competitors, who represented 18 colleges from around the country, had 60 minutes to produce two plated portions of Regal Salmon on a bed of pilaf rice with wilted spinach and béarnaise sauce.

The contestants were given the recipe for the salmon dish one month before the competition.

"I can't quite believe it, I am so surprised and really excited to win. I practiced this dish over five times and it was well worth all the hard work, says Gary Hughes.

"I would like to say thanks to my tutor Scott Richardson and to my team mate Ethan Flack for all their help and support."

Celebrity judge and Cuisine magazine food editor Lauraine Jacobs says the standard of competition was extremely high this year making judging tough and Gary's award all the more meaningful.

"Gary did an outstanding job under intense pressure, similar to the conditions in a restaurant kitchen.

"I am sure he will go on to have a successful career in the hospitality industry as this is exactly the talent we need to nurture," says Ms Jacobs.

General manager of the Auckland Hotel and Chefs Training School Paul Anderson, says that the high performance standard of the young chef competitors is encouraging for the hospitality industry and affirms why he created the College Challenge.

"Each year this competition encompasses more schools from the far north to the deep south of New Zealand, and is now firmly the leading national competition for secondary school students.

"This year was a fierce competition that all the students have shined in and is a credit to the NZ secondary teaching standards. We look forward to extending Gary's knowledge when he starts at our school,'' says Mr Anderson.

Regal Salmon marketing manager Stephen Gibson says salmon presents a serious challenge for young chefs.

"Cooking salmon is a worthy challenge because its deep-orange colour and firm texture makes presentation very important. Also, our salmon has a naturally-high oil content which provides its rich flavour and ensures it mixes well with many favourite ingredients," says Mr Gibson.

"We are delighted to be involved in the challenge again for the fourth year. It is just one way we can support and encourage up and coming chefs."

The College Challenge is the most popular competition at the three-day Culinary Fare, held at the ASB Show Grounds in Auckland. The hospitality show is run by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.


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