Otago Polytechnic students win medals at national culinary competition

A team from Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus has won silver medals in both the Kitchen and Front of House sections of the prestigious annual Nestlé Toque d’Or student culinary competition.

Culinary students Cassandra Hislop and Kayla Green proved to be strong competitors in the kitchen, while Kirandeep Kaur impressed patrons in a simulated restaurant with her service skill-set at the Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland.

Pitted against 21 competitors from around New Zealand, the trio were required to create a three-course menu at the competition.

The dishes comprised an entrée of Akaroa salmon lightly pickled in coconut oil, citrus and coconut liquor. The main was a New Zealand beef sirloin and beef cheek dish, followed by a smooth chocolate semi-frozen ganache. The use of fresh New Zealand vegetables was maximised across the menu to enhance colour, texture and flavour.

The pressure was on throughout the three hours live kitchen cook-off, as the team battled the clock and the scrutiny of top industry judges, including culinary giant Anton Mosimann, of the UK. Any errors made by competitors during the event resulted in lost points.

Competing teams were marked against WorldChefs International Judging Standards, which included food preparation, presentation, taste and service.

Event organiser and NZChefs National Ambassador Graham Hawkes said Nestlé Toque d’Or is the ultimate challenge for hospitality students.

“They have to pull it all together, work seamlessly as a team and deliver a polished performance on the day while under pressure.

“Aside from the competitive element, the event also opens doors for the students by placing them in front of hospitality professionals from around New Zealand who are scouting for talent.”

This year was the 28th anniversary of Nestlé Toque d’Or, which is New Zealand’s longest running and most prestigious student cookery and restaurant service event. Held in 17 other countries around the world, it 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.

Read more about our Hospitality programmes at our Central and Dunedin campuses