Culinary connoisseurs scooped gold at the Southern Lights Salon Culinaire this weekend, reaching a high standard for this competition.
The competition took place on Saturday 3 July at the Molyneux Restaurant facility at Otago Polytechnic and saw a generous serving of 39 gold, 32 silver and 23 bronze medals dished up to nearly 60 competitors from the lower South Island and the West Coast.
Trainee and experienced chefs, pastry chefs, baristas and waiters and secondary school students from around the South Island were invited to test their skills and kitchen capabilities in a series of events at the 13th annual competition hosted by Otago Polytechnic at its Cromwell Campus.
Joseph Clarke of Glenorchy’s Blanket Bay Lodge, winner of the Commis Chef title in 2007, took out three gold medals this year for the Chocolate Fantasy, Salmon Dish, Seafood Market Basket classes and the title of Southern Light Open Chef.
Ethan Flack of Queenstown’s Millennium Hotel won the Southern Light Commis Chef of the Year title. He and Joseph will go on to compete in the finals at the national Nestlé Toque d’Or competition in Auckland in August.
Bernadette Kean from the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill took home three golds for her masterpieces in the Special Occasion Cake, Decorated Gateau and Cold Dessert classes.
Otago Polytechnic Programme Manager Jo Brun said the standard of cooking and design was exceptional this year and made for enthralling viewing for the many spectators that turned up to watch.
“We’ve had some fantastic entrants this year who set a really high standard. The sheer energy, inspiration and passion of the competitors as they showcased their talent was truly entertaining to watch with delicious food presented for judging.”
Considered one of the South Island’s premier culinary and service industry competitions, the Salon Culinaire gives entrants the opportunity to compete in any of 30 live and static categories as well as highly competitive classes for Commis Chef and Open Chef of the Region. Events include everything from Imaginative Table Setting and Classic and Freestyle Cocktail Making to the best Cervena venison, chicken, salmon, lamb and pasta dishes.
The competition also welcomed entries from budding young high school chefs for the High Tea, Fruit Flan, Quiche or Open Pie, Presentation Cheese Board and Brunch Interschool classes.
The judges were all industry professionals from throughout Otago and Southland.
All competition rules, judging and award criteria were in line with New Zealand Culinary Fare standards. Competitors were marked against strict criteria such as preparation, hygiene, presentation, taste, service, recipe development, correct terminology on written menus and adhering to time restrictions.
“The Southern Lights Salon Culinaire is a fantastic event for both competitors and spectators and is a major drawcard on the South Island’s culinary calendar,” said Mrs Brun.
“The aim of the competition is to promote excellence within the industry so we’re hoping to see our winners go far, and many do and still come back to compete every year.”
For more details on the individual winners of the competition please contact Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell Campus on 0800 765 9276.