Hospitality Business Magazine

Christchurch young chef wins Nestlé South Island regional title

Shayani Withange Don, a young chef from Number Six Bar and Bistro in Christchurch has impressed judges with her menu, securing a trip to Melbourne where she will represent the South Island in Australia’s longest running culinary competition for young chefs.

Shayani was among 12 top young chefs from around the South Island who competed in the southern regional finals of the 2024 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award on June 12.

Her menu specially created for the cook off comprised a main of garam masala spiced chicken with coconut curry sauce served with pilaf rice, pear chutney and kumara crisps. This was followed by a dessert of chocolate orange brownie with Buondi coffee cream and mocha ganache and orange pearls.

Junior chefs who are considered the ‘cream of the crop’ in their chosen field have entered the competition to battle it out against each other in a series of culinary cook offs to find New Zealand’s best.

North Island finalists are competing in Auckland today (June 13) and tomorrow.

All the chefs, aged 16-24 years, entered the competition for a chance to fire up their culinary careers and went all out to win the coveted top award.

Competing chefs each created a two-course menu comprising a main and dessert dish, both of which were marked by a panel of leading industry judges according to globally recognised culinary standards.

Nestlé Professional Commercial Advisory Chef, Karl Seidel says cooking-off in a competitive environment and going up against other top culinary talent is a valuable learning experience. Participating chefs also gain insights and feedback on their cooking skills from experienced judges who are accredited to global standards.

Shayani along with the winner of the North Island Regional finals will go on to a kitchen battle against young top chefs from across Australia at Fine Food Australia’s public arena, in Melbourne this September.

The 2024 Golden Chef of the Year winner will receive a World Chef’s Congress 2024 20-25 October travel and work experience in Singapore, valued at $10K.

Now in its 59th year, the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award supports top emerging culinary talent from New Zealand and Australia to ignite their careers. Two New Zealanders Sam Heaven and Gabby Sanders have previously won the top award.