Four award-winning UCOL Chef Training and Hospitality students have secured a spot in a prestigious national culinary competition.
Having taken home awards from the regional Hawkes Bay and Taranaki culinary competitions earlier this year, the four Palmerston North based students are now in training mode for the NZChefs National Salon to be held later this month in Auckland.
In the Hawkes Bay competition, the students Kate Bryant (New Zealand Certificate in Cookery Level 4), Zachariah Meads (New Zealand Certificate in Baking) and Summer Dennison (New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beveridge Service Level 4) took out gold for their work in the kitchen and bronze for front of house.
Bolstered by their results, the team competed again in Taranaki, this time including fellow Cookery student Keziah O'Connor, with Zachariah competing separately in an individual dessert class. The team again picked up gold (kitchen) and bronze (front of house), while Zachariah scored an outstanding 98% in his class and picked up a gold medal - competing against fully trained chefs.
Chef Lecturer Mark Smith says that competitions provide the students with networking opportunities for future employment with some of NZ's top chef's and front of house industry leaders, as well as a taste of the commitment required in industry.
"The commitment for the competitors is really something, as they have to juggle competition training, study and in many cases part-time jobs as well. This puts them in good stead for a future in the hospitality world."
Kate Bryant believes that the competition experience has proven invaluable to her development as a trainee chef.
"I have had so much help and support, from both my lecturers and competition mentor," she says.
"Competing has benefited me during my time here at UCOL, and will continue to make a difference when I get a job out in the industry. It has been amazing to be given an opportunity to push myself, succeed and have so much support along the way."
Kate, Keziah and Summer will compete in the prestigious Nestlé Toque d'Or competition during the NZChefs National Salon on the 29th July.
Zachariah will be competing in the 28th July in the NZ Commis Chef of the Year event, and Chef Smith expects him to do very well.
"Zach has what it takes to be a great chef, he has already won 4 gold medals including Nestlé Toque d'Or in 2015 so he is well equipped to compete against the best in New Zealand".