Schoolgirls get taste of cooking on camera

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2012
Oakura Primary School cooking stars
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
TOP CHEFS: Oakura Primary School cooking stars Georga Sanders, 12, Isabel Goodhue, 13, and Sian Tran-Lawrence, 12, with their mentor Barbara Olsen-Henderson.

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Cooking on TV was an exciting, if slightly scary, experience for four Oakura Primary School girls.

About 30 schools were chosen from the 112 that entered the Maggi Intermediate Schools Kitchen Showdown, including the Oakura girls who were selected in the central region.

They find out next Friday, when an announcement is made on TV2's Erin Simpson Show, whether they have made it to the final.

For the semis the girls had to travel to Porirua to cook their dish at Whitireia Polytech, surrounded by TV cameras.

Isabel Goodhue, 13, said the scariest part was setting everything up at the beginning and not knowing how to use the big commercial stove.

"It was a completely different environment.

"There was one of the people who was questioning what we were doing and he got Nicole into a bit of a state."

The man, who turned out to be a judge, picked up the parmesan and asked, "Is this your cheese? Well, that won't be enough."

But the girls remained calm and pointed out to him they needed only half a cup.

Sian Tran-Lawrence, 12, had another stressful moment when the boys in the team next to her spilt oil into the hot pan she was about to use.

"It was really, really hot and I didn't know whether I should put it under water or not."

There was a chef on site to help and she came to Sian's aid. She said it held her up only a few minutes.

They had 50 minutes to make their dish – pan-seared haloumi cheese on pumpkin puree with parmesan gnocchi and green vegetables – created by The Bach owner Barbara Olsen-Henderson.

"You had to use at least two Maggi products and do a meal for a family of four," Sian said.

She decided on vegetarian and gluten free to make a point of difference.

The girls went to her house two afternoons for several weeks practising the dish.

It was 12-year-old Georga Sanders' job to make the tomato sauce and help with the gnocchi.

She wants to be a chef in her own restaurant one day – preferably in Paris.

In the meantime, Georga has to wait until next week to see if she and her friends will have more time in television kitchen.

The fourth member of the team, Nicole Watchorne, 12, is overseas.

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