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UCOL chefs ready for hot competition

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
UCOL chefs ready for hot competition

Palmerston North UCOL's Nestle Toque d'Or team is confident they'll stand the heat in the kitchen later this month when they compete in the prestigious competition at the New Zealand Culinary Fare in Auckland.

Professional Cookery students Georgia Packer and Denise Irving, and Hospitality student Barry Marshall, have come through a tough selection process to represent UCOL at the high pressure event.

Each Toque d'Or team consists of two student chefs and one front-of-house server. Both components are judged separately and both areas have to attain top honours to win a team gold.

Competing against other polytechnics, the UCOL team has two and a half hours to prepare, cook, present and serve six portions of a three course menu.

Last year's team won the Nestle Innovation award with a prize package that included a new commercial oven and $1000 worth of cookery books. "The oven is great," says Chef Tutor and Team Manager Mark Smith. "But this year we want the top prize - the Golden Hat title."

Barry Marshall (23) is refining his front of house service skills under the watchful guidance of UCOL Hospitality Lecturer Jennifer Karaitiana.

Eighteen year old Georgia and Denise (21) admit they have very similar personalities. "We are both strong minded," says Georgia. "But when we get in the kitchen we work well together. Communication is the key. We like to think that teamwork adds flavour to the food."

The team chefs have a comparatively short time to hone their culinary skills to attain the impeccable standards required by the event judges. "They practice the dishes over and over again," says Mark, "to the point where they could cook them in their sleep."

The Toque d'Or event will take place on Monday 18 July as part of the New Zealand Culinary Fare 2011 in Auckland which runs from 17 to 19 July 2011.

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