Boys savour culinary challenge

BRITTANY PICKETT
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014
mitchell leask, ethan wilks
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/ Fairfax NZ
MASTERCHEFS: Southland Boys' High School pupils Mitchell Leask, 17, left, and Ethan Wilks, 17, get ready for the NZ Culinary Fare.

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Southland boys know their way around a stove top.

Southland Boys' High School pupils Ethan Wilks, 17, Lee Richardson, 18, and Mitchell Leask, 17, are heading to Auckland to compete in the three-day New Zealand Culinary Fare, which begins on Sunday.

Food technology teacher Scott Richardson said Boys' High pupils had been entering the competition every year since 2006.

They entered the regional competition in Timaru and went to the national competition every year.

"It's really good practise," Richardson said. They gained valuable experience from competing under time constraints, he said.

There are five classes for secondary school pupils to enter: cafe breakfast, the college challenge, vegetable soup, tea pastries and Dilmah tea match and the table setting challenge.

Ethan and Mitchell would compete in cafe breakfast and the soup challenge, while Lee would be competing in the tea match and table setting.

In cafe breakfast, competitors have 45 minutes to prepare and present two individually plated cafe-style breakfasts.

For the vegetable soup round they would have 60 minutes to prepare four portions of soup.

In table setting, Lee will have 30 minutes to complete a full table setting to restaurant standard and in the tea match he will have to blend his skills of table setting, greeting customers and answering questions about matching tea to meals.

It would be the third time Ethan and Lee have competed in Auckland, and the second for Mitchell.

Ethan had previously brought home silver and bronze medals from the fare but his biggest prize was the competition itself.

"I just get enjoyment from competing and cooking under pressure," he said.

Lee had brought home silvers and bronzes too, and enjoyed the buzz he got during competitions.

"You get adrenaline going under pressure," he said.

Table setting was his strong suit, his "show" round, he said.

Competing was something silver medal winner Mitchell was looking forward to.

A lot of the other schools had bigger teams because they had more pupils, so beating them would be a bonus, he said.

"The best part is probably competing against other people - just the fact that if we beat them, most of them are from bigger colleges," he said.

Richardson said the pupils had been practising their competition skills and by the time of the competition they should have done their full entries five times.

He competed in the open section of the fare until 2010 when he decided to focus on mentoring his pupils, and now judges part of the fare.

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As well as the competition he would take the opportunity to take the boys out for fine cuisine in Auckland, going to the newly opened Orphans Kitchen in Ponsonby and a French cafe.

The NZ Culinary Fare takes place in Auckland from August 17-19.

- The Southland Times

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