Practice has paid off for the New Zealand teams from Sudima Hotels & Resorts, who carried off four gold, 13 silver and 10 bronze medals at the 2017 New Zealand Hospitality Championships. The three teams who competed represented Sudima properties in Auckland, Rotorua and Christchurch, and excelled in categories including cocktail making, table setting and bed making.

A stand-out contestant among the Sudima group, who competed in only a few of the championships’ numerous categories, is Sudima Rotorua’s Faizal Kadar, who competed alongside his fellow food and beverage supervisor Neil Kim. Faizal and Neil competed in live classic table setting, mystery box table setting and wine and beer service. Faizal was named Class Winner, as the person who excelled in each one of the three classes.

Faizal prepared extensively for his first New Zealand Hospitality Championships by training with his boss and reading the competition guidelines to understand what the judges would require of him. He says his success didn’t come as a total surprise: “I was pretty confident that I knew what I was doing, and I expected to bring something back to Rotorua.”

The mystery box table setting category demanded creativity, and Faizal outshone his competition by selecting a box that was heavy on the colour green and choosing a theme on the spot. “When I set the green table I named it ‘Rolling Meadows’ in honour of New Zealand and all the greenery that the people who visit this country will see and experience.”

Three food and beverage staff members, Kunal Sharma (restaurant and bar supervisor), Vineet Shinde (barista and mixologist) and Brendon Craven (bar supervisor), represented Sudima Hotels & Resorts in the classic cocktail, innovative cocktail and mystery box cocktail categories. All won medals, but Kunal excelled, taking away two gold medals and a silver along with the prize of Cocktail Champion of the Year.

Kunal is no debutant on the competition scene, having won numerous prizes for his bartending at multiple New Zealand competitions, including the title of 2015 Bay of Plenty Bartender of the Year. He is indisputably one of New Zealand’s finest bartenders, applying skills he learned when working in India, on cruise ships, and in Dubai alongside one of the world’s best mixologists. “It’s been a great journey, and I’m enjoying experimenting with molecular cocktails, so these days I call myself a liquid chef rather than a bartender. As far as competing goes, next year I will be training and preparing other Sudima bartenders to bring home medals and take bartending to the next level.”

Each contestant practiced within their hotel to prepare for the competition, which was overseen by between eight and 10 judges. In addition to competing, Sudima Hotels & Resorts contributed judging skills, with Rakesh Chandra, Food & Beverage Manager & National Procurement F&B, Sudima Auckland Airport, judging several food categories: café sandwich, fruit flan static, individual cold dessert and cold entrée.

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