Taking note of judges feedback is recipe for success
Year 8 students Amy Xiong and Stephanie Chong, of Bucklands Beach Intermediate School, were not expecting a television crew showing up at their classroom door.
They felt surprised and screamed when Saale Ilaua, the presenter of TVNZ 2's The Adam and Eve Show, announced they were selected as the first semi-finalists in this year's Maggi Pop-Up Kitchen Showdown.
The Amy and Steph @ BBI team delighted the judges' tastebuds with a creative chicken quinoa dish containing a rich selection of vegetables and topped with kale chips.
Besides using Maggi's chicken chow mein recipe base, the East Auckland girls also made an Asian flavour dressing with soy sauce, sesame oil, sweet chilli and garlic.
In the competition designed for 11-16 year-olds, participants must create their own recipe to make a healthy meal for a family of two adults and two children in 30 minutes, and use at least one Maggi recipe base, with a maximum cost of $20.
"I love the recipe, it's vibrant, healthy and full of lots of colourful vegetables," a judge and lead chef for Nestle Foods Richard Brogan says, about the pupils' creation.
Brogan says they hope to "encourage good cooking and eating habits", and "teach young people how to prepare balanced meals and get them excited about cooking with lots of vegetables" through the event.
The girls remember how they first wanted to enter the competition themselves when a team of three students from their school won the national title last year.
Now it's their chance to compete with five other teams from around New Zealand to make the final three.
"We're just really happy that we got in. Our dish is very healthy. It's got tons of vegetables," Stephanie, 12, says.
"What we're hoping for is that we'll be able to push through into the finals and maybe win."
Amy, 13, who doesn't cook often, says she's enjoying the experience and is more conscious about healthy eating.
"It's so much fun. You can create dishes that are really nice and yummy."
Their food technology teacher, Beth McCrystal, says the girls and other teams in the event all worked hard to make "really interesting recipes".
"It's wonderful. Two years in a row is pretty awesome, though it's only semi-finals that they are in," McCrystal says.
Winners of next month's national final will win $5000 for their school, as well as $250 for each team member.
* The Maggi Pop-Up Kitchen Showdown is on The Adam and Eve Show on TVNZ 2 at 3.35pm on Tuesdays, with semi-finalists appearing weekly from today, July 18.