New Zealand chefs and their front of house team members are being given the opportunity to win a trip to the home of the world’s finest tea and spices – Sri Lanka.
Dilmah and the NZ Chefs Association have teamed up to celebrate the beverage and gastronomic ceremony around High Tea at the country’s regional and national culinary competitions.
The team winning the national final will travel to Sri Lanka to attend the Dilmah School of Tea in November this year, to help mentor students at the MJF Charitable Foundation’s culinary training centre and also see tea plantations and spice gardens, for which the country is renowned.
Nigel Scott, general manager for Dilmah NZ, says during recent visits by Dilmah Founder Merrill J Fernando and his son Dilhan Fernando, funds were raised toward an annual scholarship for Kiwi culinary professionals to go to Sri Lanka. The goal was for them to help train students at a purpose built culinary centre just outside Colombo and to explore the culinary side of Sri Lanka.
The 1850 sq m centre, which is just been opened, will take around 20 students each intake from tea plantations and people who may have been injured in the country’s civil war that finished only seven years ago, or who live with disability. The graduates will be targeted at a growing number of international hotels being developed to meet the country’s flourishing tourism industry.
The idea to team the annual scholarship with the National Salon competition follows the success of Executive Chef Laurent Loudeac and Camille Furminieux of Hippopotamus Restaurant at Wellington’s Museum Art Hotel. The pair won the Dilmah Real High Tea global final last year, which was the culmination of eight years of competitions among 14 countries and 710 competitors.
Many of the teams from hotels, restaurants, cafes and training establishments that entered the NZ section of the Dilmah competition requested a chance to have another go to test themselves against the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS) rules. NZChefs is NZ’s WACS affiliate so the National Salon competitions were a perfect match.
Now a Dilmah Ambassador, Loudeac says the High Tea competition enables chefs and their front of house team mate to showcase quality food and tea together, quality service and especially team work between the kitchen and the front of house. Loudeac will be a judge at the National Salon final in Auckland at the end of July.
Grant Kitchen, NZChefs’ National Salon manager, says the Dilmah-WACS global rules have been adjusted for use in the regional competitions and national finals to encourage teams at all levels to enter. He says the Dilmah scholarship prize provides a unique opportunity for two people to help pass on their knowledge and to also learn about Sri Lanka’s culture and deep culinary history.
Entry details for the High Tea part of the Salons will be on NZChefs’ website and entrants will receive an information pack to help them understand what is required.