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Local successes at this year’s Northland Salon Culinaire

11 June 2014

Local successes at this year’s Northland Salon Culinaire

66 entrants cooked under pressure in front of about 100 supporters during last weekend’s Northland Salon Culinaire competition at NorthTec’s hospitality department. The Northland Salon Culinaire began in 2007 and has become a significant event in the region’s hospitality industry calendar because it involves a wide range of people and skills.

Salon Director and NorthTec hospitality tutor, Hughie Blues, says entrants range from baristas to waiters, chefs to bartenders, industry judges and tutors, lecturers and mentors, and secondary schools. “The Northland Salon Culinaire features the very best emerging talent in Northland’s hospitality industry. It involves 26 classes across three categories - an open industry category, trainees at a tertiary level, and secondary school students.”

The event’s chief judge was Anita Sargeson, the president of New Zealand Chefs’ Association, from Wellington. Hughie - “Anita has been coming up for this for seven years and says she particularly likes the supportive whānau feel of the event. There is an air of competitiveness but also a sense of camaraderie between the contestants. Each class has a minimum of three judges and they mark the competitors on how they perform on the floor, personal presentation, technique, cookery, taste, and composition, plus they give them feedback on how they can improve.”

Hughie is particularly keen on the growing participation of secondary school students in the event. “We believe that the schools are our target market for the future of our industry. The event gives our young people the opportunity to benchmark themselves against others from across the region, compete for regional titles and see the standard at tertiary and industry level. This year we had students from Kerikeri High School, Whangarei Girls High School, Pompallier Catholic College, and NorthTec’s Trades Academy participating. It necessitates extensive training prior to the event and a chance to put into practice the training that has brought them there.”

A highlight this year was the success of local secondary schools in the City and Guilds Secondary Schools Challenge. Hughie – “The NorthTec Hospitality Trades Academy team won gold in the secondary schools culinary class. It is a national event so they now go from this regional level to the national final at Manukau Institute of Technology in September.

Hughie – “Northland Chefs really appreciate their relationship with NorthTec as their principle partner in the Salon Culinaire. Their resources and facilities enable the event to take place. We at NorthTec were especially delighted this year because we came out well, showing our own standards have risen across the department. NorthTec got nine bronze awards, seventeen silvers, and three golds, with seven class wins. That’s a huge step up for us from previous competitions.”


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