New Zealand’s best secondary school chef is Letitia Hayler from Okaihau College in the far North.
Competing in the College Challenge at the Culinary Fare ‘nationals’ in Auckland yesterday, 16 year-old Letitia’s Regal Poached Salmon was named the best produced by 28 finalists.
In the College Challenge students from around the country had 60 minutes to produce two plated portions of a salmon dish.
The fish is provided by Regal Marlborough Salmon and the dish features poached salmon on a bed of pilaf rice with wilted spinach and béarnaise sauce.
Letitia wins an educational scholarship to the value of $5,575 at the Auckland Hotel and Chefs Training School and her school receives a trophy which it keeps for a year.
Runner-up was Digby Leggett from Rangitoto College in Auckland. Digby receives a set of chef’s knives worth $600 supplied by the Chef Shop. In third place was Chung Truong from Southern Cross Campus.
Needless to say, 16 year old Letitia was excited about her win.
“I’m just stoked; over the moon,” she says. “I thought I had blown it when I heard I hadn’t won the bronze or the silver. The gold is just the best.
“The competition was awesome. I decided to enter only a few weeks ago because I wanted to commit to hospitality. So once I’d made the decision I gave it my best shot.”
Letitia was able to practice three times before the competition and it was only her second time cooking on gas.
She is a year 12 student studying Mäori, drama, hospitality, English and maths and wants to be either a chef or a performer. She should go a long way. Letitia has a talent for showmanship – she made the top 36 for New Zealand Idol.
Auckland Hotel and Chefs Training School head Paul Anderson, who is also spokesperson for the challenge, says the results of the event bode well for the food industry.
“The quality of entrants signals that food technology is alive and well in New Zealand colleges and that the future of the culinary industry is in good shape.
“The standard of cooking throughout the competition was pleasingly high.”
Regal Marlborough Salmon marketing manager Stephen Gibson says that salmon presents a challenge for young chefs.
“Our salmon has a naturally-high oil content which provides its rich flavour and mixes well with many favourite ingredients. It is an ideal test for young chefs and presents extremely well with its deep-orange colour and firm texture. Regal is proud to be involved with new young potential chefs of New Zealand”
The College Challenge is the biggest event with over 66 competitors at the Culinary Fare in Auckland, part of the three-day Hospitality Show run by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.
The 28 food technology students from Northland to Palmerston North are aged between 16 and 17.
Issued for Regal Marlborough Salmon by Pead PR
Stephen Gibson, Marketing Manager, New Zealand King Salmon, Tel: 0-9-622 4912; Mob: 029-230 0021; e-mail: Stephen.email@example.com
Paul Anderson, Auckland Hotel and Chefs Training School; Tel: 307-6877; Mob: 021 726 738; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leanne Swann, Pead PR, Tel: 0-9-918 5580; Mob: 021 612 989; e-mail: email@example.com