Three EIT students are savouring the sweet taste of success after scoring silver in this year’s Nestlé Toque d’Or –New Zealand’s most prestigious student cookery and food service competition.
Trainee chefs Hilary Wroe and Emma Druitt and front of house student Jamie O’Malley competed against 10 other hospitality teams representing training institutions nationwide in the event held recently at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland.
EIT also won the prize for recipe innovation – an award that is gaining kudos as the industry strives to establish a strong local identity in its cuisine.
And the competition has had a further happy outcome for Hilary and Emma – Vidals offered them a job which they are sharing in the winery restaurant while they complete their last year at EIT.
Jamie had been considering working on cruise ships, but having just got engaged, she is now aiming to find a post-study position in Hawke’s Bay. She is currently completing her work experience at Napier restaurant, Milk and Honey.
Like other competing teams, the three from EIT were required to prepare and serve a three-course meal for six – three sit-down guests and the three judges appraising their efforts.
EIT chef tutor Korey Field says the menu of recipes was sent to Auckland a month ahead of the event for judging separately. Criteria included correct terminology and recipe redevelopment.
“Hilary and Emma had to utilise Nestlé products in ingenious ways,” Korey explains. “They worked on how the dishes tasted and the time they took to prepare. Once they had resolved that, they kept practising until they were happy with their efforts.”
Their winning menu comprised a cured salmon entree, a beef main and a caramel macadamia tart desert.
Held in 17 countries, Toque d’Or is designed to simulate the pressure of a real working team environment.
In the hands-on Auckland event, students were judged on preparation, hygiene, taste and service, and they had to meet a strict time deadline – two and a half hours to create and serve the three course meal.
EIT front of house tutor and team manager Celia Kurta says she inadvertently added to the pressure ahead of the event by breaking a vase that was to be part of the table setting’s yellow and white colour theme.
“Fortunately, we found someone who had a suitable replacement vase – and it looked even better than the original.”
The EIT team and the two tutors, who accompanied the students to Auckland, are now eagerly awaiting the delivery of the competition prizes – a top-of-the-line oven and lots of cookbooks for the students to carry on their learning.