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Milestone for Regional Cooking Competition

Media Release


Former EIT students John Bland and Stacey McCann have good reason to be toasting the Hawke’s Bay Salon Culinaire’s upcoming 10th anniversary.

John and Stacey were both awarded gold in the hospitality industry’s regional competition for students, although in different years.

The pair have even more in common. They are now a couple, having met, not at EIT, but through working at the Clive Hotel restaurant, where John is head chef and Stacey front of house.

As a second-year Diploma in Professional Chef Practice student, John was a ring-in in the 2015 Salon Culinaire competition, having been asked to join the EIT hospitality team when another trainee chef called in sick.

He had little notice to prepare for the event – the competition was the next day. He threw himself into learning the team’s recipes and, on the day, was able to draw on the skills, techniques and presentation ideas acquired in class.

While he was a rookie in competition, John did have form – in 2014 he was awarded the inaugural Noel Crawford Memorial Chef Scholarship, which covered more than $6000 of his tertiary study fees.

Having graduated and worked now in several highly-rated local restaurants, he says he couldn’t be happier in his new career.

Stacey first struck gold for her table-setting design in the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Salon Culinaire and she thinks that helped with her selection for the EIT team entered in Toque d’Or.

Nervous about competing in the country’s most prestigious student cookery and food service competition, she was nonetheless one of just four front-of-house entrants from throughout New Zealand and the Cook Islands to be awarded gold.

Stacey says these wins and gaining EIT’s Certificate in Front of House Operations (Advanced) have helped boost her confidence and she’s enjoying the warm relationships she has developed with a largely local clientele who regularly dine out at the Clive Hotel.

New Zealand Chefs Association-Hawke’s Bay Salon director Glenn Fulcher says the 10th Salon Culinaire, to be held at EIT on 27-28 May, will see the next enthusiastic batch of budding hospitality students from both secondary schools and training establishments aiming for gold in their respective events.

The event is supported by NZ Chefs, EIT and City & Guilds qualifications.

“The industry is in capable hands with the talent we have seen competing over the years. All the effort put in by the NZ Chefs – Central Branch volunteer committee is paid off 10-fold when we see great stories like John and Stacey’s.”

EIT provides classrooms, its training kitchen and the Scholars restaurant for Salon Culinaire, and tutors and lecturers give up their weekend for the competition.

This year, in a further contribution to mark the voluntary organisers’ 10th anniversary, EIT students will be making the canapés for a celebratory Saturday evening cocktail party.

© Scoop Media

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