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High hopes for UCOL cooks

Media Release

Thursday 15 August 2013

High hopes for UCOL cooks

UCOL Chef Lecturer Mark Smith has high hopes for his all-female team of cookery students at this weekend’s New Zealand Culinary Fare. And Mark should know, he’s been training and managing successful UCOL teams for the prestigious event for the past nine years.

Lauren Birch, Cat Drinnan and Kirsten Moffitt will compete as individuals in the live competition kitchen where, in one hour, they must produce four identical meals for judging. During the preparation, cooking and plating up they will be under the constant scrutiny of the judges.

Certificate in Professional Cookery Level 4 student Lauren, will recreate a similar Beef Open dish to the one that won her gold at the Wellington Culinary Fare in May. She will prepare her prize-winning dish for the Wine and Food Match category. “I thought I’d never have to cook that dish again after the Wellington competition!” she says.

She is also entered in the Cervena (Venison Rack) category and has, along with the others in the team, spent many hours practising the preparation, cooking and presentation of her competition menu.

Certificate in Professional Cookery Level 4 student Cat, will contest the Fish and Seafood Open class. Her dish is comprised of paua fritters, prawn and hapuka, each with a very specific cooking time. “It took a lot of planning to get the timing right,” she says. Cat also competed at the Wellington Culinary Fare and says that experience has given her extra confidence. “I don’t feel nervous, just excited.”

The live kitchen competitions are a first for 16 year old Kirsten. She is a Youth Guarantee student who completed a Certificate in Professional Cookery Level 3 in Semester One and is mid-way through a Certificate in Baking and Pastry. She will present a Pumpkin and Truffle Oil soup in the Trainee Soup class.

All three students have been training for the past four weeks, up to four times each week, in addition to their already demanding course work.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing. “There have been a few disasters but the best time to make mistakes is while practising,” says Assistant UCOL Chef Lecturer and trainer Roslyn Towey. “Then if something goes wrong during the competition, they know how to think on their feet.”

They deserve to do well,” says Mark. “They have all put tremendous effort into ensuring they represent themselves and UCOL to the highest possible standard.”

Palmerston North Chef lecturer Warren McKenzie will compete in the Open Beef class and defend the Open Duck title that he won last year.

UCOL Wairarapa cookery students Thomas Pepper and Cheryl-Kay Phillips will also cook in the live kitchen showdowns under the guidance of their lecturer Damian Peeti. Thomas will be cooking in the Trainee Pasta class, and Cheryl-Kay will compete against industry chefs in the Open Beef class.

Damian is not only competing in the Open Lamb class but also acting as Floor Manager at the prestigious Nestlé Toque d’Or competition.

The Toque d’Or is the country’s premier student culinary and restaurant service competition run annually at the Culinary Fare.

When: 18 and 20 August.

Where: ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, Auckland.

Photo: Chef lecturer Mark Smith tests Lauren Birch’s venison dish. Roslyn Towey, Kirsten Moffitt and Cat Drinnan in background.


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