Rotorua and Christchurch Chefs Win Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Regional Events

Monday, June 21, 2021

Chefs Samantha Warena and Jamie Jackson have proven to be tops in the kitchen after respectively winning the North Island and South Island Regional Live Cook-offs in the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award.

New Zealand Finalists



North Island Winner - Samantha Warena (Left) & South Island Winner - Jamie Jackson (Right)


Both chefs were awarded silver medals for their skills in the kitchen and will now go on to represent the North Island and South Island at the grand finals of the 2021 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award which will be held in Sydney during September.



Samantha created a two-course menu comprising a main of seared ginger stuffed sous vide chicken breast, a braised chicken lollipop on sweet potato puree and vegetables. Dessert was a chilli infused chocolate mousse on a crispy orange shortbread served with spiced rhubarb.


Samantha's Winning Dishes






Jamie’s medal winning menu comprised a main of roasted chicken with a kumara croquette, carrot puree, broccolini and herb oil split jus. Dessert consisted of fermented black pepper and chocolate cremeux, caramelized white chocolate and citrus.


Jamie’s Winning Dishes








The judging panel scored them and the other competitors against globally recognised culinary standards.


Aged just 19 years, Samantha Warena works for Skyline Rotorua while 23-year-old Jamie Jacksin is employed by the Eastblock Hospitality Group.


Warena said she was elated with the win and was looking forward to competing in Sydney.

“I’m now working on my game plan for the big event and taking the judges’ feedback to heart, so I can improve for the Sydney finals. This was a great opportunity to learn new things and meet the other contestants. We had a great time and hope to keep in touch.”


Last year, Jamie Jackson won a bronze medal when he competed in a virtual cook off for the same competition.


“This year, I’ve managed to take it that one step forward securing silver. I’ll now be heading back to the practice kitchen to further perfect my skills so that I’m in top form when I compete in Australia.”


Samantha Warena and Jamie Jackson will battle each other and top young chefs from around Australia at a live cook-off which will be held at Fine Food Australia. One winner will take out Golden Chef of the Year and a $10,000 cash prize.


Executive Chef and Nestlé Professional head judge Mark Clayton says, “It’s never been more important to come together to support our industry, inspire young talent and provide key skills for them to succeed in their careers. This Award is about pushing yourself to be a better chef. It’s a chance for young chefs to step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves. Warena and Jamie really showcased their cooking passion on the plates and delivered standout dishes.”


Darren Wrights, NZ Chefs & Mark Clayton 


As Australia’s longest running culinary competition for young chefs, the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award is now in its 56th year, supporting top emerging culinary talent and kick starting their careers.


Visit our Golden Chefs website for more information and stay up to date on Facebook @goldenchefs and Instagram @golden_chefs.