Experimenting with chocolate has helped Otago Polytechnic bachelor of culinary arts student Stephanie Peirce win a national competition, qualifying her for the Australasian final in Melbourne. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Inspired by Cinderella, an Otago Polytechnic student has
designed an award-winning dessert which is serving as her
meal ticket to a three-day Australasian master class and
competition in Melbourne.
Stephanie Peirce (21) won the New Zealand final of the Proud
to be a Chef competition with a dish she designed for the
pastry course component of a bachelor of culinary arts
It has qualified her for the Australasian final, comprising
the region's top 30 trainee chefs at a cook-off in February.
Another three New Zealand finalists have been selected for
the Melbourne event.
Miss Peirce said her dessert was inspired by Cinderella and
the transformation of the golden carriage into a pumpkin at
Originally from Millers Flat, Miss Peirce incorporated
pumpkin in reference to her family which owned Peirce Orchard
(the Pumpkin Place).
She started cooking early and by age 6 could make pancakes on
"For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a chef
and was always baking with mum and grandma. Working with food
doesn't really seem like a job, I really enjoy it," she said.
Miss Peirce was also a keen artist and chose the polytechnic
course because it offered her the chance to combine her
passions for food and design.
Her win was even more special because she had not previously
entered a culinary competition.
"It is so fantastic to win an award for work I did for my
"It means all the work I put into designing and developing
this dish has an application in the real world," she said.
Miss Peirce is interested in becoming a pastry chef and
eventually a culinary teacher.
Three of her classmates - Rosie Soper, Amanda Ede and Sarah
Stevens - were also among the competition's 10 New Zealand
finalists, selected from about 65 applicants.
Bachelor of culinary arts programme manager Tony Heptinstall
said it was a significant achievement, as no other
institution had had more than two students in the national
The three-year Otago Polytechnic course was launched this
year with 50 students, he said.