Student Team Wins Medals at National Culinary Competition

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A team from the Wellington Institute of Technology has taken out two golds and a silver medal at the prestigious annual Nestlé Toque d’Or student culinary competition.

Culinary students Varun Yadav and Ashleigh Simpson proved to be strong competitors in the kitchen winning gold for their efforts. Joshua Tollison also impressed patrons in a simulated restaurant with his service skillset which earned him a silver medal.

The trio fought it out against 21 other competitors from around the country to create their medal winning three course menu at the competition.

Gregg Walker WelTec tutor Ashleigh Simpson Joshua Tollison Varun Yadav and Scott Campbell WelTec tutorAbove: Gregg Walker (WelTec tutor), Ashleigh Simpson, Joshua Tollison, Varun Yadav and Scott Campbell (WelTec tutor).

The dishes comprised an entrée of seared Akaroa salmon belly skewer with pickled eggplant and coastal spinach. The main was a horopito roasted New Zealand beef sirloin and braised beef cheek followed by a preserved ginger custard rolled in praline on a charcoal, sherry and kawakawa jaconde. The use of fresh New Zealand vegetables was maximised across the menu to add enhanced colour, texture and flavour.

 The pressure was on throughout the three hours live kitchen cook off, as the team fought against both the clock and 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.

Overall winners of the event were the Ara Institute of Canterbury team who took out the top award. A special Innovation Award was presented to the SKYCITY Auckland team for their creative use and application of Nestlé Professional products.

The event which has been running for 28 years is a key fixture on the culinary calendar.

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. 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 from all walks of life.

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

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