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NZChefs announce top chefs for high performance squad

The medal winning team that competed at last year’s Culinary Olympics in Germany.

New Zealand is gearing up to make greater inroads into the international culinary world, with the announcement of NZChefs’ new High Performance Squad.

Considered the ‘crème de la crème’ of the New Zealand culinary scene, the eight-strong team is looking to make its mark at key international events.

NZChefs President Graham Hawkes said the squad comprises some of the country’s elite and emerging chefs including: MacLean Fraser, Blake Haines, Ganesh Khedekar, Eric Lim, Greg Piner, Marc Soper, Mark Sycamore and Darren Wright.

“Three of the members – Darren, Mark and Ganesh – formed part of the medal winning team that competed at last year’s Culinary Olympics in Germany. This was a significant accomplishment, given that New Zealand hadn’t competed at that event for 28 years.”

Canterbury features strongly in the line-up with four of the chefs based in Christchurch.

MacLean Fraser from the Bolton Hotel in Wellington has also just been announced as a WorldChefs certified judge. He is only the second New Zealander to achieve this status.

Graham said MacLean and the rest of the team have their work cut out for them, as they prepare to represent the country at a range of culinary competitions.

“They’ll be battling against the world’s top chefs who have huge financial backing at their disposal. Our Squad will be doing this purely for the love of it and the opportunity of showcasing New Zealand’s culinary prowess.

“With food tourism continuing to be a growth story, they will be out there helping to promote our country as a must visit destination for great cuisine.”

Graham said members of the squad were selected based on a range of criteria such as previous competition work, having been identified as an emerging culinary talent, and a demonstrated commitment to meeting the challenges ahead.

“First up, they will compete at key events at the New Zealand Hospitality Championships in July 2017. After that, selected members will head off to Guam where they will compete in the Hans Beuschkens World Junior Chefs Challenge, Global Chefs Challenge and Global Pastry Chef Challenge.”

Some of the other events also being considered include Battle of the Lion and the Asia Pastry Cup in Singapore.

Graham said NZChefs has its sights firmly set on sending another team to compete at the next Culinary Olympics in 2020.

“Creating a High Performance Squad will go a long way towards ensuring that we have the right skills and people in place to achieve gold next time.”

He said New Zealand’s abundance of produce and talented chefs is making a big impact overseas.

“We all know how fantastic the food is here and now it’s time to start letting the rest of the world in on the secret.

“We’re really excited about where New Zealand is heading on the international culinary stage, particularly as we now have a formalised High Performance Squad.”

The Squad will be open for new members to join, as further talent is identified.

NZChefs High Performance Squad Members are: –

Blake Haines          Christchurch       Chillingworth Road

Darren Wright       Christchurch       Chillingworth Road

Eric Lim                  Christchurch       Chillingworth Road

Ganesh Khedekar            Auckland             LSG SkyChefs

Greg Piner                         Dunedin              Vault 21

MacLean Fraser               Wellington          Bolton Hotel

Marc Soper                       Wairarapa           Wharekauhau Lodge

Mark Sycamore                Christchurch       ARA Institute Of Canterbury