Palmerston North Tops in Culinary Stakes

Monday, December 12, 2016

A team from the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) has taken out the top award in the prestigious annual Nestlé Toque d’Or student culinary competition.

Culinary students Kate Bryant and Keziah O’Connor proved to be champs in the kitchen, while restaurant service competitor Summer Dennison dazzled diners.

Kate and Keziah battled it out against 20 other top culinary students from around the country to create their award-winning three course menu which comprised a starter of sous vide and smoked Akaroa salmon with pickled New Zealand vegetables, followed by a main of roasted New Zealand beef sirloin with a beef brisket and kumara strudel, spinach, carrots, turnips and a caramelised shallot jus. The menu concluded with a white chocolate mousse and poached pears dessert.

Out front, Summer served up the dishes to special guests dining at the event.

The pressure was on throughout the three hours live kitchen cook off, as the team fought against the clock and scrutiny of top industry judges including world renown chef Gert Klotzke of Sweden. Any slip up by competitors was duly noted by the judges and marked as lost points.

The panel of judges was led by high profile chef and leading culinary figure Darren Wright. Competing teams were marked against WorldChefs International Judging Standards which include food preparation, presentation, taste and service.

This is the first time that the top award has gone to Palmerston North. The event which has been running for 26 years is a key fixture on the culinary calendar and is hotly contested by the country’s leading hospitality institutes.

Keziah said she and her team mates were thrilled to have won the competition, after training so hard for the event.

“We put in months of hard work to get ready for the competition. At the same time, we had to juggle work, study and personal commitments. However, the sacrifice was worth it on the day, when our team performed seamlessly creating and delivering an award winning menu and service.”

UCOL Chef Lecturer Mark Smith who was the team’s manager said bringing home the top award was a triumph for the students, UCOL and Palmerston North.

“It’s clear proof that Palmerston North is now a centre for excellence, in terms of hospitality talent. Achieving top ranking at such a prestigious competition as Nestlé Toque d’Or is a significant achievement. It’s testimony to the dedication and commitment of the team and their drive to succeed. For these students and others who follow in their footsteps at UCOL, rewarding careers within the hospitality are now firmly within grasp,” he said.

Event organiser and New Zealand Chefs Association President Graham Hawkes said Nestlé Toque d’Or challenges competitors to put into practise everything they had learned, remain calm and produce their very best dish and service to achieve great results.

“On the day, there’s no room for error as points are lost for any slip ups that might occur. Aside from the competitive component, the event also puts the students in front ofsome of the most highly-regarded culinary professionals from New Zealand which opens new doors to rewarding career opportunities.”

A special award sponsored by Moffat that recognises innovative use of Nestlé Professional products across a team’s menu, went to Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Rotorua Campus.

This year was the 26th anniversary of Nestlé Toque d’Or which is New Zealand’s longest running and most prestigious student cookery and restaurant service event. Aside from New Zealand, it is also held in 17 other countries around the world and has launched the careers of many world-famous chefs.

Sponsors of this year’s event were: Nestlé Professional, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, vegetables.co.nz, Akaroa Salmon, House of Knives and Moffat.

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MEDAL RESULTS

Western Institute of Technology
Cookery silver
Restaurant service silver

Universal College of Learning Palmerston North
Cookery gold
Restaurant service silver

Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Tauranga Campus
Cookery silver
Restaurant service bronze

North Shore International Academy
Cookery silver
Restaurant Service silver

Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Rotorua Campus
Cookery gold
Restaurant service silver

Wellington Institute of Technology
Cookery silver
Restaurant service bronze

Otago Polytechnic Cromwell Campus
Cookery bronze
Restaurant service bronze

New Zealand Defence Force Catering School
Cookery silver
Restaurant service gold

AUT University
Cookery silver
Restaurant service gold

Ara Institute of Canterbury
Cookery silver
Restaurant service bronze

Waikato Institute of Technology
Cookery gold
Restaurant service bronze

For further information:
Mark Smith
M: 021 071 8732

Christine Meads
M: 027 294 0823
E: [email protected]