New Zealand finalists Samantha Warena (left) and Jamie Jackson.

The Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award is gearing up for the 2021 virtual grand finals, having sourced the top 12 line-up of young chef talent from across New Zealand and Australia.

The New Zealand finalists will compete in the grand finals on November 17 at the QT Queenstown hotel, with a virtual awards presentation broadcast to follow on November 30.

Competing for New Zealand are Samantha Warena representing the North Island and Jamie Jackson for the South Island.

Each of the top 12 finalists will compete simultaneously across their regions in commercial kitchens, with two NZChefs or Australian Culinary Federation expert judges onsite to assess professional practices, presentation and the all-important taste factor. At the same time, their dish creations will be live streamed to a panel of remote judges who will calibrate the results.

Executive Chef and Nestlé Professional head judge Mark Clayton says, “We were excited to be back to in person chef-to-chef cook-offs this year but, with current circumstances preventing that, we are still determined to give our finalist chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills and make the award experience as rewarding as ever.

“We’ve attracted an outstanding level of chef talent this year and the top spot will be closely contested. Despite us all being separated this year, we can’t wait to see the magic the finalists create to bring us all together.”

The 2021 Golden Chef of the Year will be awarded an AUD$10,000 cash prize to further their culinary career.

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