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Taking up the chocolate challenge

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Sarah Harrap and Jiemin Aw
Lauren Priestley
STRONG DUO: Sarah Harrap and Jiemin Aw are gearing up for the biggest challenge of their careers.
NZ Pastry team
ALL CHOCOLATE: New Zealand Pastry Team members Robert Bok, Jiemin Aw, Sarah Harrap and Vivian Clarke with some of their previous creations.

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Two chefs, 18 kilograms of chocolate and eight hours.

That's the sticky situation Jiemin Aw and Sarah Harrap will find themselves in when they compete in the top competition for pastry chefs on July 4 in Norway.

And they are hoping to get the recipe just right.

It is the first time a pastry section has been included in the biennial World Association of Chefs Societies congress.

The young chefs will complete three elements based on the theme of "water" for the challenge - including a chocolate showpiece more than 1 metre high.

The design of the chocolate cake, desserts and showpiece is top secret but Aw and Harrap say they will be using the shapes of human limbs and household items. Everything will be made from chocolate or sugar.

They are freighting more than 100kg of equipment to Norway for their creation, Aw says.

"It a huge process. I'm more nervous at the moment but also excited.

"There's a lot to figure out when we get there, like sourcing different ingredients, then a huge rush on the day, then we'll breathe out and wash everything up at the end."

Aw single-handedly won the Asia-Pacific semifinal competition in 2013 to gain entry to the world competition this year.

The 27-year-old says her assistant, Harrap, 23, from Mt Albert, is so qualified for the job they are facing it as a team event.

They have been practising from 5.30am until about 6pm each Saturday without breaks.

Harrap says it is a rush to get all three elements done but it gets easier the more they practise.

"It's still a push because you want to get as much done as possible but at the same time you've done it so much you want to keep getting the time down," she says.

Aw agrees: "The training is preparing us for all of the worst case scenarios that could happen during the actual day. We've had the showpiece fall over and all sorts."

The most expensive part of the competition has been the chocolate for training, she says.

Teams have to use a specific type of Valrhona chocolate in the competition and it is important to train with it as well, she says.

After each run-through, the team melts the showpiece chocolate down so it can be reused and gifts the desserts and cake to family and friends.

Both chefs trained at AUT and have been using the university as a base for training, Aw says.

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New Zealand Pastry Team member and senior AUT lecturer Arno Sturny says he has high hopes for the duo.

"We're always hoping for a winning place," Sturny says.

"They're not just going to this event to make up the numbers.

"For them it's that personal growth. Every time they compete, they become stronger and stronger. Places like that is where the learning happens."

- Central Leader

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