'Hugely stressful' cooking contest

Salon Culinaire competitor Marcela Garvalho, of Queenstown, prepares her poached chicken dish at Technique training restaurant in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Salon Culinaire competitor Marcela Garvalho, of Queenstown, prepares her poached chicken dish at Technique training restaurant in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
High temperatures, high stress and fine dining were on the menu at Otago Polytechnic's Salon Culinaire competition in Dunedin yesterday.

About 50 people from throughout Otago took part in the competition, which displayed their cooking and serving skills in nine classes at the polytechnic's training restaurant.

Table Seven owner and judge Steve Richardson, of Dunedin, said it was a chance for competitors to present their talents and gain experience in competition.

"It's hugely stressful. Good on them for giving it a go. Their hearts are pounding right now ... [they] would have practised and practised and practised this dish for ages," Mr Richardson said.

He was looking for something innovative and surprising from the winning dishes and he was pleased with the demonstration of skills on show.

Otago Polytechnic senior hospitality lecturer and chief judge David Gillespie, a veteran of many culinary competitions, said the competitors learned much from the stress of the situation.

"They are under immense pressure. They have to learn to try and relax," he said.

Otago Polytechnic senior hospitality lecturer Cathy Price said the competition expanded competitors' skills and gave them a qualification which they could use around the world.

Mrs Price said she hoped taking part would encourage competitors to compete in the nationals in Auckland, which is a separate competition to those held in the regions.

Competitors were mostly hospitality students. However, some classes gave industry professionals and members of the public a chance to compete.

Results were. -Pasta (junior): Dylan Malcolm 1, Kylie McKinney 2, Cameron Ryder 3. Chicken (open): Marcela Garvalho 1, Myung Li 2, Angela McCormack 3. Mystery box (team event): Rosemary Soper and Amanda Ede 1, Sarah Stevens and Kate Kempthorne 2, Scott Lord and Leighton Te Kanawa, and Dawn Coles and Marcela Garvalho (equal) 3. Barista (open): Sean Buchanan 1, Trina Melrose 2, April McLeod 3. Innovative vodka cocktail (open): Aaron Crawford 1, Trina Melrose 2, Melinda Campbell and Tyler Cathro-Carson (equal) 3. Table setting and service: Melinda Campbell 1, April McLeod 2, Phuong Pham 3. Professional service person 2012: Melinda Campbell 1, Trina Melrose 2. Classic martini (open): Sean Buchanan 1, Viv Moffat 2, Tyler Cathro-Carson 3.

Results for the amateur class were unavailable last night.


- Timothy Brown.