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Lee Kum Kee Developing Chefs Challenge

Have you got what it takes to compete at a national level?

The Lee Kum Kee New Zealand Developing Chefs Challenge is back, and organisers are looking for aspiring young chefs to compete for a $3,000 cash prize and the title of this year’s developing chef.

Would-be contestants have until 17 September to get their entries in. Open to all chefs aged 40 years and under and who are either working or training in New Zealand, entrants must first submit a Chinese or Chinese-inspired dish and video online, using a minimum of three Lee Kum Kee sauces or condiments.

Supported by Gilmours and Trents, finalists will be announced by 27 September and go on to compete in the national challenge in Auckland on Monday 9 October.

Held at Main Course cooking school in the CBD, finalists will have 90 minutes to make and present their dish to judges Mark Dronjak, a seasoned chef with over 40 years’ experience and a wealth of published work and Paulie Hooton former head chef at the Auckland Seafood School and Oyster Inn on Waiheke Island.

Last year’s challenge saw Julius Caesar, a senior chef de partie at Ponsonby Road Bistro in Auckland, take out top place with his dish of crispy pork belly, pork mince, noodles and crispy wontons, while the 2021 competition saw Jacob Aomarere-Poole, a sous chef from Amayjen in Palmerston North, win with his sweet and sour fish stuffed tofu and daikon soy salad.

Alisdair Methven, Key Account Manager for Acton International Marketing – Lee Kum Kee’s sole distributor in New Zealand –says the Lee Kum Kee challenge is an opportunity for career development and for chefs to really elevate their Chinese culinary artistry.

“For finalists, it’s an opportunity to compete and grow and to represent their home town and their place of employment or training at a national level. While the winner goes home with a $3,000 cash prize and the title of Lee Kum Kee 2023 developing chef.”

Each contestant also walks away with more than $200 worth of Lee Kum Kee products.

Chefs have until midnight Sunday 17 September to make their submissions. More information, the entry form and terms and conditions can be found at

Renowned for inventing oyster sauce more than 130 years ago, Lee Kum Kee is one of the world’s most recognisable makers of authentic Chinese sauces and condiments and has been popular in both commercial and home kitchens across New Zealand since the 1970s. Acton International Marketing is Lee Kum Kee’s sole distributor in New Zealand and has been for over 40 years.

The 2023 Lee Kum Kee New Zealand Developing Chefs Challenge is proudly supported by Gilmours and Trents.

Enter now at