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Budding Chefs Rewarded At ‘Famous’ Luncheon

SIT | Te Pūkenga Cookery student Yari Mowatt and 29 of her fellow classmates had their hard work and dedication rewarded last weekend, as they worked under the guidance of some of the country’s best-known chefs in the much-anticipated annual Pure South Famous Young Chefs’ Luncheon.

Held at Hansen Hall on the SIT campus on April 28, around 160 local foodies flocked to the popular luncheon to have their taste buds delighted with an array of mouthwatering flavours in the five-course degustation menu. This year’s line-up of returning famous chefs saw Steve le Corre, Tony Smith, Darren Wright, Mark Sycamore, and Cameron Davies, joined by first-timer Quinn Ojala.

This is the second year Miss Mowatt has volunteered for the event; it’s been a highlight of her programme at SIT, describing it as amazing, and a great opportunity for students. “No-one should miss it. It gives you so many industry connections...”

Working in small teams under the guidance of a ‘famous chef’, students carry out two days of cooking and preparation prior to the Sunday afternoon event. Miss Mowatt has worked under the tutelage of Alliance Brand Ambassador, Darren Wright, for two years, requesting to be put in his team again this year. “The first year it was just a coincidence, I didn’t know who he was. He’s an amazing chef.” She particularly enjoyed learning new cooking techniques from Mr Wright’s mentoring. “He’s so smart the way he explained things to us ... he’s well respected around NZ.”

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The team prepared a seared lamb rump with smoky mashed potato foam, and a courgette tortellini filled with carbonara sauce. “It was so well cooked and all the flavours combined perfectly,” Miss Mowatt said.

SIT Cookery student, Yari Mowatt, has gained knowledge and industry connections through making the most of opportunities at the highly successful Pure South Famous Young Chefs’ Luncheon, held last weekend at SIT’s Hansen Hall in Invercargill.

Cooking at this level was more complex as there are multiple steps to every component. “[It] has to be perfect,” she emphasised; there’s no room for error. Over the two days “all the students worked so hard together”, exchanging ideas and knowledge between them. “There’s a lot of asking questions; I’m excited to have them learning from me, and me from them as well,” Miss Mowatt added.

The most demanding part of the weekend was achieving the standards Miss Mowatt expected of herself. “Not disappointing my chef... not overcooking anything, following Darren’s instructions; it’s important to do it as perfectly as you can. I wanted to do my best.”

Miss Mowatt admitted there was added pressure plating up the food in front of the diners. “It is challenging and you get nervous of course,” but overall she was more excited than nervous. “The menu, the chefs, learning as much as I can, and seeing all the people so happy with the food,” these were the big rewards for her, however, the most satisfying aspect was engaging with all the professional chefs, seeing what they were doing and talking with them about cooking. “Being really involved this year with Glenn [Stridiron] and all the other tutors was really good for me,” she explained.

Already a certified chef and currently employed at The Langlands, Miss Mowatt has two months remaining to finish her diploma qualification. She’s looking forward to gaining more experience in the role as she takes up full-time work.

SIT Programme Manager Hospitality / Cookery, Glenn Stridiron, said it was a pleasure to be hosting the Famous Chefs’ event again because of the opportunities it presented for SIT students to engage with the best in the industry. “It’s a great learning experience for our students to develop their skills under top chefs,” he said, adding both staff and students alike put in a huge effort to make the luncheon a success each year. “SIT students are the backbone of the event in putting together the food, and providing the SIT training kitchen is the ideal location to help make this community event happen,” he said.

“Our dedication is to our students to involve them in top industry opportunities, blending industry insight and knowledge; combining those two elements together is why we make it happen.”

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