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UCOL team ready for kitchen heat

11 August 2014

UCOL team ready for kitchen heat

Palmerston North UCOL’s Nestlé Toque d’Or team is confident they’ll stand the heat in the kitchen next week when they compete in the prestigious competition at the New Zealand Culinary Fare in Auckland.

Professional Cookery students Zoe Paris and Ally Behrens Burleigh, and Hospitality student Amy Robinson, competed as a team at the Wellington Culinary Fare in May so they have a good idea of what to expect in Auckland. “The Wellington competition was good preparation for the team,” says UCOL Chef Lecturer and Team Manager, Mark Smith. “But Nestlé Toque d’Or is a big step up in intensity and prestige.”

Each Nestlé Toque d’Or team consists of two student chefs and one front-of-house server. Both components are judged separately and both areas have to attain top honours to win a team gold.

Competing against other polytechnics, the UCOL team has two and a half hours to prepare, cook, present and serve six covers of a three course menu.

Amy is refining her front of house service skills under the watchful guidance of UCOL Hospitality Lecturer Niels Huibers.

In his role as Team Manager, Mark has spent considerable time planning the team’s menu and believes it is critical to design the competition menu with the team member’s talents in mind.

Zoe and Ally say their kitchen teamwork and the resulting dishes keep improving. “We get better each time,” says Zoe. “Communication is the key – having the same sense of humour also helps.”

The team chefs have a comparatively short time to practice their culinary skills to attain the impeccable standards required by the event judges. “They practice the dishes over and over again,” says Mark. “But of course the unexpected can happen during the competition, so they have to be prepared to solve those problems on the spot.”

Organiser of this year’s Nestlé Toque d’Or competition – National President of the NZCA and Operations Manager of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Anita Sarginson says,”The standard at the competition is always very high and I’m confident that this year will be no exception to that. The winning team will be the one that gets it right on the day and delivers a seamless dining experience from start to finish.”

“To further challenge competitors, a special Innovation Award sponsored by Moffat will be presented to the team that best demonstrates new and innovative ways of using Nestlè Professional products across the menus that they create.”

Anita said the competition opens doors for competing students and gives them valuable opportunities to kick-start their careers.

The 24th Nestlé Toque d’Or competition will be held at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau Auckland on Monday 18 August 2014. Sponsors of this year’s event are: Nestlé Professional, Beef + Lamb New Zealand,, Akaroa Salmon, House of Knives and Moffat.


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