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Students Win Medals at National Culinary Fare


Local Students Win Medals at National Culinary Fare

The competition heated up when the National Culinary Fare hit Auckland on 22-24 August.  With over 900 competitors the Fare is the world’s largest annual competition of its kind. According to Cherie Freeman, Head of School for Hospitality & Tourism at the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec), the competition provides a platform to network with all levels of the industry, for competitors to match themselves against their counterparts and for WelTec’s chefs and tutors to get exposure to new products and techniques.

As expected, the Wellington contingent did not disappoint.  WelTec students were amongst the top competitors, winning a total of five medals in what judges determined to be the highest calibre of competitors to date.  Two silver medals were won in the coveted Toque d’Or competition, and a further two silver and a bronze in the other classes.

Melanie Carr, Olivia Swaford and Emily Latham-Prokopowicz from the Hutt Valley explain team cooperation was the secret ingredient for the Toque d’Or team. Encouragement was vital when the team lost power and gas for half-an-hour at a crucial stage in the competition.  “Emily’s encouragement and positive feedback was key to keeping our spirits up and ensuring that we pushed through and successfully completed the competition” says Melanie.

“We bonded well as a team” says Melanie. “Olivia and I both cooked to our strengths, I looked after the desert, Olivia took charge of the entree and we both worked together on the main”. The team had to prepare, cook and serve six portions of a three course meal within two and half hours, incorporating specified ingredients.

The experience has been a taster for what a career as a professional chef can entail. “It was such a great opportunity” says Emily “the experience was lots of fun, but totally different to what it is usually like in the kitchen. The contacts and experience will definitely help us to find jobs within the industry”.

“A lot of students have gone on to become highly successful upon competing at Toque d’Or” says Chef Tutor and Toque d’Or trainer, Ray Morrell.  “To compete is an honour itself and teams have to be invited to compete.  The team did very well, and I’m very proud of them. When the power and gas went out the students were out of their comfort zones and dealt with this remarkably by being able to put up the meals in the allocated time frames. Nestle requested their recipe for Milo mousse which is a great indication of their ability.”

WelTec’s ‘Training Team of the Year’ also performed exceptionally well taking out two silver medals. This competition, similar in standards to Toque d'Or, is also gaining high regard in the industry for the exceptional quality produced.

The competition requires dedication from the participants, with students and trainers committing nine weeks to pre-competition practice and preparation. Ensuring students are prepared for the high standard required in competitions as well as in industry is an important aspect of the WelTec approach. “With only five months experience, the students have had the opportunity to compete against not only second year students but also industry professionals, it is great way to improve their skills” says Mr Morrell. “It’s onwards and upwards for these guys, they could be industry leaders in no time.” 

WelTec Student Results

Toque d' or  team

Chef -  Melanie Carr - Upper Hutt - Silver Medal

Chef - Oliver Swafford - Lower Hutt – Silver Medal

Waiter - Emily Latham-Prokopowicz - Upper Hutt – Silver Medal


Training Team

Chef - Kijeon Kim(Jane) - Korea/Lower Hutt - Silver Medal

Chef - Sungha Son (Jason) - Korea/Lower Hutt - Silver Medal

Waiter - Melissa Lind - Pukerua Bay - Silver Medal


Cocktail Competition

Wayne Brown- Lower Hutt - Bronze Medal

Image: The Toque d’Or team Melanie Carr, Emily Latham-Prokopowicz and Olivia Swafford



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