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Battle In The Kitchen Won By Defence Force

Battle In The Kitchen Won By Defence Force

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Left to Right: Restaurant service student, Kirsty Lister, culinary student Makere Lee and Stephen Hogan.

2 September 2008


Three New Zealand army officers fought and won their own battle in the kitchen yesterday (1 September) as they went head-to-head with culinary students from around the country in the annual Nestlé Toque d’Or competition.

Culinary students Stephen Hogan and Makere Lee whipped up six covers of a spectacular three-course meal in just two-and-a-half hours which was served by restaurant service student, Kirsty Lister, to a panel of 17 top industry judges.

It is the first time in the 18 year history of the New Zealand competition that the New Zealand Defence Force Joint Services Catering School has taken out top honours in the event.

The team battled against students from 11 other training establishments around the country in their quest for the award.

Students were judged on taste, professionalism, working methods, knife skills, hygiene, minimisation of waste and front-of-house beverage delivery and service. Menus also had to be prepared and were judged on the use of correct terminology and recipe development. This year’s judging line-up included World Association of Chefs Societies’ approved judge John Sloane from Singapore, television personality chef Paul Jobin and respected restaurateur Travis Clive-Griffin from Saluté in Greytown.

Hogan who was also selected during the event to become a junior member of the New Zealand Culinary Team (NZCT) said he was ‘honoured’ to have been part of the team that won.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win such a prestigious competition.”

He said the achievement came after a considerable amount of time and effort was spent preparing for the event.

The team’s meal comprised a starter of Akaroa salmon with pickled ginger, lime and coriander, and a creamy coconut soup followed by a main of roasted Sumac New Zealand beef sirloin with a port jus lie, butternut pie and, baked moi moi potatoes served with lentils and fried courgettes. The menu concluded with a poached Deisar pear with vanilla mousse on a custard tart with a hazelnut wafer served with a mini opera cake.

The team praised their tutors who they said were “fully committed” to winning the award.

Team manager Senior Sergeant Manu Ferguson said he was proud of his teams “amazing”achievement.

“Right from the start, I told them to simply go out there have fun and enjoy what they were doing – which is exactly what they did. They’re a tight unit and have demonstrated hard work, passion and commitment.”

Ferguson said the win was solid endorsement of the high standards set by the Defence Force in the area of trades training.

As well as receiving the coveted Toque d’Or (Golden Hat) trophy each team member also received a travel grant.

Event organiser Pip Duncan said as well as demonstrating their skills in front of some of the nation’s most highly-regarded culinary professionals, student chefs were also able to earn their way onto the New Zealand Culinary Team (NZCT) which competes at an international level.

“Hogan has some exciting challenges ahead of him with training starting in a few weeks and the first international event set to take place in Singapore in April 2010,” Pip said.

“The NZCT comprises a number of the nation’s top chefs, and is coached and guided by some of our most experienced industry professionals.

“In the past, the team has competed at the prestigious American Culinary Classic in Chicago, winning three bronze medals. They currently have their sights set on other international cooking events including the Battle of the Dragon at The Welsh International Salon Culinaire in 2009.

“To become part of the team is a fantastic opportunity for any young chef looking to make their mark in the industry.”

Nestlé Toque d’Or is the country’s longest running and most prestigious student cookery and food service competition. It is held in 17 countries around the world and has launched the careers of world-famous chefs, including Jamie Oliver and Anton Mosimann. The competition is designed to simulate the pressure of a real working team environment, overseen by industry-wide experienced judges who are hard to impress.


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