Flying into New Zealand after a stint at the World Expo in the United Arab Emirates and at the WorldChefs Congress & Expo, culinary experts seldom rank higher than Peter Wright, Pacific Rim Continental Director for WorldChefs.

Wright will mark his first anniversary in the role by joining a team of hospitality industry experts to judge culinary students at the National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge (NSSCC), grand final at Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland, on September 7.

NSSCC Event Manager Pip Duncan says: “We’re absolutely delighted to have Peter as our guest judge. NSSCC is an excellent stepping stone to students competing in WorldChefs’ endorsed competitions.”

As a seasoned competitor with two Culinary Olympics gold medals to his name from representing Australia in the Culinary Olympics twice and the World Championships once, Wright has some sound advice for the students.

His own inaugural competition as a 16 year-old first year apprentice chef gave him confidence in his ability that four decades later acknowledges him as one of Australia’s leading foodservice experts and as a global event specialist.

Aware that this is the most significant culinary challenge the students will have faced, Wright is mindful of the stress leading up to competing.  “Having pre-event nerves is normal and helps to maintain focus, but once the competition starts your skills take over – trust yourself.

“Also take into consideration that you may be in a strange environment and a kitchen that you are unfamiliar with so this will impact the time it takes to complete tasks, so factor this into your overall plan.”

Wright says: “Culinary competition is great in so many ways. It makes us focus and research new ideas. Competition also maps out menu and recipe development. It provides confidence and independence.

“Fortunately I have been able to compete many times in several countries and observing what all the other competitors and teams do and how organised they are gave me culinary peace of mind and personal confidence that what we were doing at the time was cutting edge and competitive with the other chefs.”

When it comes to judging NSSCC Wright will be initially looking at individual skill and how each competitor manages their timeframe.

“Are they confident or are they panicking, did they challenge themselves enough. Also benchmarking against all the competitors is important to be able to balance the effort of each competitor.”

Wright says the students need to keep in mind that taking part in NSSCC is a good test of whether hospitality is the right choice for them. If it is, they could have a bright future.

“During my career I have worked in many hospitality environments, including fine dining, pubs and hotels, hospitals and catering. This journey has been fulfilling and has allowed me to travel the world and work in several countries.

“Over the past 15 years I have forged my own business, Global Hospitality Group and managed global events, feeding elite athletes in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games Villages, in some instances serving up to 60,000 meals per day. If I had my time again I would do the same all over again.”

Entries close on July 8. Express your interest for 2022 NSSCC by emailing info@nsscc.nz or go to www.nsscc.nz for more information.

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