Gold medals in national hospolympics for two young stars

Monday 27 August 2012, 10:18AM
By Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI)

Tessa Walker of Cook’n with Gas, Christchurch and Cameron Lock of the Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club showed they have what it takes to become future industry stars after being named New Zealand’s top hospitality apprentices in the annual HSI Modern Apprentice of the Year competition.

Organised by the Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI), the fast-paced national competition saw eight apprentice chefs and four food and beverage apprentices compete for their respective Modern Apprentice of the Year titles in Auckland.

Tessa was named winner of the HSI Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year, and Cameron won the HSI Food and Beverage Modern Apprentice of the Year, awarded at the National Culinary Fare in Auckland, Tuesday 21 August.

Both gold medalists win a trip to the 2013 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival in March, and the opportunity to attend master classes there with international chefs and front of house stars.

All the Cookery finalists  received  medals and a complimentary one-year membership to the NZ Chefs Association, as well as a prize package from

The eight apprentice chefs vying for the title Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year had to create recipes for a two-course menu, based on a list of ingredients given to them in advance, and then cook those dishes within two hours. Each aspiring chef had, as the focus of their main course, a whole NZ King salmon delivered to their bench to scale, fillet and prepare according to their recipe. Tessa’s winning menu was a main of seared fillet of salmon rolled in capers and green herbs on a warm red pepper, bean and carrot salad, served with spicy cauliflower on truffled celeriac puree with balsamic glaze. For dessert, Tessa went for rice pudding with orange cat tongue biscuits on strawberry coulis with an apple, mint salsa and crème fraiche.

During August, each of the Food and Beverage apprentices were ‘mystery-shopped’ in their workplaces, to assess their customer service and wine-matching skills, and their upselling ability. As the second part of the competition, the finalists had to recommend wines for a three-course dinner menu, and undertake a wine evaluation challenge.

Each finalist received a medal and a prize package from Southern Hospitality Limited, as well as membership  to the Service Professional Association of New Zealand (SPANZ).

HSI Chief Executive Ken Harris says the high standard of the competition and entrants indicates the strong future of New Zealand hospitality. “The competitors worked really hard to prepare for this event and are a great example of the talented, passionate young people that will go far in the hospitality industry,” he says.

As the hospitality industry’s training organisation (ITO), HSI leads access to training and qualifications for the hospitality industry including overseeing, supervising, assisting and reviewing all nationally recognised training for the five sectors of the hospitality - accommodation, clubs, cafes, bars & restaurants, food services and quick service restaurants.

HSI also provides support and guidance to schools, polytechnics and providers that teach and assess Unit Standards through hospitality courses.

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For further information or to arrange an interview with the winners,  or HSI Chief Executive Ken Harris , please contact:
Shelley-Maree Cassidy, HSI Marketing Manager | Ph (04) 802 8725 | 0800 275 4474


The competition finalists were:

HSI Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year:
Heidi Bath-Risbridger – Minter Ellison Rudd Watts (Alliance Catering), Auckland
Ashley Baty – The Hermitage Hotel, Mt Cook (runner-up)
Thomas Sharpin – Le P’tit Pyrenees, Auckland
Zane Neustroski – The George Hotel, Christchurch (runner-up)
Ben Heap – Chin Wags Restaurant, Auckland
Tessa Walker – Cook’n with Gas, Christchurch  (winner)
Jared McKellar – Mercure Hotel The Terrace, Wellington
Ben John – Hilton Hotel, Auckland

HSI Food and Beverage Modern Apprentice of the Year:
Candace Smith – Mercure Hotel, Auckland (runner-up)
Angelo Brown – The Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club, Wellington
Cameron Lock  – The Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club, Wellington (winner)
My Van (Lilly) Huynh Thi – The George Hotel, Christchurch (runner-up)