|Knives flashed and the concentration was intense as 523 secondary students from 32 schools sliced, diced and iced their way through the 2019 Waikato Culinary Fare competition at Wintec.|
|Students travelled from across the Waikato and as far as Auckland, Whitianga and Taupō to spend two days competing in live events at Waikato Culinary Fare which is now New Zealand’s biggest regional hospitality competition.
Hamilton Girls’ High School took out the Waikato Top School award, while Te Awamutu College took home the Regional Finals National Secondary School Culinary Challenge Team award and first year Wintec Culinary Arts student Ziyi (Zane) Lee was awarded Novotel Tainui Hamilton – Junior Hospitality Student Waikato.
Waikato Culinary Fare Trust co-organiser and Wintec Hospitality Manager, Peter Radojkovich says the unsung heroes on the day are the food technology teachers.
“Hats off to our food tech teachers – they do an amazing job of coaching, supporting and giving their students the confidence to cook well in a live competition. It’s our teachers who are guiding their students to develop their talent and be successful.
“The quality of entries was really high. We saw cakes that looked and tasted like they came from top patisseries and pizzas, burgers and mains that would draw high praise on a restaurant or café menu. You would not have thought they were made by intermediate and secondary school students.”
Cater Plus Chief Executive Paul Hodge says the many industry people who took two days out to support the event were pivotal to its success.
“The Trust is grateful for the ongoing sponsorship by the hospitality industry and the support of industry people in assisting with the task of judging, we couldn’t stage an event of this size without them.”
A number of former Wintec staff and students also returned to judge Waikato Culinary Fare.
“The students this year were so skilful,” said Amy. “The judges were honestly quite blown away with the students’ talent.”
Auckland’s Massey High School teams took up residence for three days at Wintec’s Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae. After being welcomed with a pōwhiri, the students wasted no time and got a head start preparing for the Fare in the wharekai (marae kitchen).
As well as cupcake decoration, innovative challenges included creative pizzas, Māori kai and cocktails along with knife-skills, mystery box challenges and a table-setting competition. This year the mystery box challenge attracted a record 37 teams (of two). The chicken main, pizza and hamburger challenges were so popular, extra heats were added – perhaps an indication of what students like to eat most.
The competition aims to encourage and nurture future chefs. The Fare, which is run under the Waikato Culinary Fare Trust, is a partnership between Wintec School of Hospitality and Cater Plus.
The National Secondary Schools Culinary Competition (NSSCC) also took place alongside Waikato Culinary Fare and Te Awamutu College student Ilisa Folau won the Waikato competition with her dish, dukkah crusted carrot falafel which featured a vibrant carrot puree, pickled carrot, smoked feta and tahini sauce.
The full list of winners are: