His kitchen rules - chef whips up award

17:00, Aug 21 2014
Nickolas Han
COOKING UP A STORM: Nickolas Han, 28, was named Apprentice Chef of the Year at the 2014 New Zealand Culinary Fare.

Nickolas Han has traded his white laboratory coat for chef's whites with surprisingly successful results.

The PIHMS chef was named Apprentice Chef of the Year at the 2014 New Zealand Culinary Fare, beating seven other contestants in Auckland on Tuesday.

He was joined by competitors from Witt and New Plymouth Boys' High School in representing Taranaki at the competition, each bringing back wins.

Han graduated with a degree in applied microbiology in 2008, but preferred the hospitality industry after a part-time stint at an Italian restaurant while living in South Korea.

On competition day, Han had 2 hours to prepare five dishes, which he completed with five minutes to spare.

The 28-year-old said he was "really excited" about the win which includes an all-expense paid trip to Melbourne for its food and wine festival next year.

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Han puts his win down to the support he received from his wife and fellow Taranaki chefs at the competition.

He poured in long hours preparing for the big day, spending an extra five hours, on top of his eight-hour work shift, perfecting his creations.

Witt students Lucy Sandifer, Andy Desai and Violet Foster were City and Guilds New Zealand Training Team of the Year, while Troyden Waters was New Zealand's 2014 Young Culinarian of the Year.

Jessica Erb, also of Witt, and Sam Stevens and Aniket Chavan won gold and bronzes respectively in the Nestle Toque d'Or challenge.

New Plymouth Boys' High School students Braden Brooks, Troy Miller, Takarangi Henderson, Joe Franklin, Braeden Christen and Daniel Blackburn won six silver medals in the secondary schools category.

Witt chef tutor Angela Ferguson said she was "very proud" of everyone's efforts.

"Taranaki always has such a wonderful presence at nationals and we all fly the region's flag with pride," she said.

Taranaki Daily News