An elite group of chefs have been drafted to judge this year’s Nestlé Toque d’Or culinary competition, including multiple-award winning and renowned chef Gert Klötzke from Sweden.
NZChefs National President and event organiser, Graham Hawkes, said Gert is quite possibly the most distinguished and prominent chef in the world. “During his career, he has notched up numerous accolades and achievements, appeared on a gastronomic stamp collection, been in two teams that have won the Culinary Olympics, written multiple cookbooks and culinary publications and is the current Chairperson of the WorldChefs Culinary Competition Committee. The length and breadth of his knowledge and experience is extraordinary,” Graham said.
“It will be Gert’s first visit to New Zealand and securing him as a judge at this year’s Nestlé Toque d’Or competition is a real coup.”
Now in its 26th year, Nestlé Toque d’Or is one of the most anticipated events of the year for the hospitality industry. “It’s a student culinary showdown that showcases a thrilling array of young culinary and restaurant service talent,” says Graham. “Every year, the event becomes even more exciting, as the students seek to lift the bar from previous competitions and dazzle the judges with clever techniques and intriguing menus.
“These students are studying and training in culinary arts institutes all over the country. They’re the best in their fields and just being allowed to compete is an honour. They are all incredibly passionate about the opportunity to face off against their peers in a live kitchen cook off. For this year’s competitors, showcasing their skills in front of Gert Klötzke will be a truly memorable experience for all of them.”
Each team consists of two culinary students and one restaurant service student. They must prepare and serve six covers of a three-course meal in just two-and-a-half-hours.
“We will no doubt see some nerves on the day, however, the winning team will have a crowning achievement to add to a future list of accolades. Past winners have gone on to have incredible careers in the industry,” Graham said.
The judges will assess competitors against WorldChefs judging criteria, which covers a range of areas including: timing, taste, food preparation skills, service, presentation and hygiene.
“There’s a lot of pressure on these young students to get it right within the allotted time.”
They will be cooking and serving dishes that they have kept secret and perfected in the months leading up to the event. “When the competition heats up they’ll be wanting to make sure every detail is spot on, as the judges will be critiquing their every move,” Graham said.
The 26th Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on 29 July 2016 at the Auckland Showgrounds. An awards dinner will be held later in the evening where the winning team will be announced.