Students turn up the heat in culinary competition

Aspiring young chefs from around New Zealand will be sharpening their knives in a bid to impress some of country’s most successful chefs and win the country’s premier secondary schools student culinary competition.

Nine regional winning teams will battle it out at the grand final of the National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge (NSSCC) being held at Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland on 30th August.

Teams of two year 12 or 13 culinary students go head-to-head in a live kitchen cook off to produce four portions of entrée and main meals in just 90 minutes.   The winning team will fly to Sydney for a culinary experience of a lifetime.

Highly respected chef and head judge, Mark Wylie, said the competition represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for students who want to enter the hospitality industry.

“The students will be preparing their meals for some of the country’s top chefs and who knows what can happen when you impress one of them.  Over the past three years many of the students have been offered apprenticeships within the hospitality industry.

“The competition showcases what happens when you combine some of our best up and coming talent with quality New Zealand produce,” says Mr Wylie.

Students will be scored across a number of areas including food preparation, hygiene, presentation, taste and use of New Zealand chicken and fresh NZ grown vegetables and potatoes.  

Joining Mr Wylie on the judging panel are:

- Jeremy Schmid – Author and owner/chef at The Officers Mess wedding and function centre on Auckland’s North Shore;
- Ben Bayly – My Kitchen Rules judge and Head Chef at both The Grove and Baduzzi in Auckland;
- Liam Fox, Chef/owner, Forte Green, Auckland
- Craig Lucas – Lecturer, Manukau Institute of Technology;
- John Kelleher – Senior lecturer, Professional Cookery, AUT University Senior Lecturer.

The winning team and their teacher will be flown to Sydney for an exclusive culinary experience, including a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the Sydney hospitality industry, dining at high profile restaurants, visiting some of Sydney’s vibrant food markets and more.  

In addition, the national winners will each receive a $1,000 gift pack from, City & Guilds, NZ Chicken, Southern Hospitality, 5+aDay and Potatoes NZ.  City & Guilds is also awarding each student a $2000 scholarship towards their study of a City & Guilds International Catering Qualification, in a City & Guilds approved training centre of their choice.

The winning school will receive a $1,000 Bidvest voucher, an ANOVA Precision Cooker and a Blue Seal Evolution Series G504D - 600mm Gas Range Static Oven, worth $7,000.

The total prize package is valued at over $17,000.

Kelly Galloway, Bidvest’s Brand Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, said the competition gives students the opportunity to work with the very best of New Zealand’s produce, develop their culinary technique and experience the excitement of creating their dishes under the time pressure of a live cook off.  

“Fostering a love of good food and an attitude of experimentation will really help these students in their hospitality careers.”

NSSCC is run by the New Zealand Culinary Arts Development Trust and sponsored by City & Guilds,, 5+aDay, NZ Chicken, Blue Seal, Potatoes NZ and Southern Hospitality.

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