Culinary students converge on Timaru for competition

Ara tutor Jill Milburn with bakery student Amandeep Sidhu.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Ara tutor Jill Milburn with bakery student Amandeep Sidhu.

Aspiring chefs, cooks and bakers will battle it out in the kitchen in Timaru this weekend as part of the Southern Lights Salon Culinaire. 

The annual competition, running for the 19th time, will pit more than 80 students from Otago Polytechnic, Invercargill's Southern Institute of Technology and Ara Institute of Canterbury against each other, as well as people from various hospitality industries.

The competition was held at the Timaru campus every three years, which Ara bakery tutor Jill Milburn said was a good opportunity for the campus to show off what it was capable of. 

 Eight students from her National Certificate in Baking Level 4 class were competing in the class 3 bread section, which was an open section.

"They'll be competing against industry as well, so it's a big task for them, but they're doing really well."

Each of her students were perfecting their baked items on Friday to be entered in the show on Saturday, and she anticipated it would be a long day.

"We'll be cooking until midnight, it needs to be perfect."

From the Timaru campus there were about 10 other students competing in various other categories, she said.

"Sometimes they enter, get the nerves and drop out last minute."

Milburn understood that people might feel nervous, but she said chefs, bakers and cooks learnt a lot from entering competitions.

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She was pleased with how her students were doing ahead of the competition, saying some of their attempts were "absolutely brilliant".

Bakery student Amandeep Sidhu, 21, arrived in Christchurch from Punjab, India, two years ago.

Sidhu has been studying in Timaru for the past four months.

He was enjoying learning "new things" from the competition experience, and having the chance to experiment with recipes which were not in his textbook, he said.

"We don't have these things in our assessments, getting new flavours of bread rolls, they're not in our books."

Sidhu was entering three different types of bread rolls, a fruit loaf and a challah bread in the competition.

Once he finished his bakery course in November, he hoped to stay in New Zealand and work in the baking industry, "to learn more new things".

The competition would be open for public viewing from 8.30am on Saturday at Ara Institute of Canterbury on Arthur St, Timaru.

 - Stuff

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