Good luck to the chefs of New Zealand’s Culinary Olympics Team, who fly out this morning en route to the competition in Erfurt, Germany.
Having honed their menu during banquets held throughout the country over the past 15 months, the chefs spent their last night in New Zealand cooking a “Farewell Feast” for 110 guests at Fonterra’s new headquarters on Auckland’s waterfront. While most of the dishes served are a secret – the feast was also a last practice of the food the team will cook in competition during October 21 to 26 – MiNDFOOD can reveal that they were of an incredibly high standard.
The food championship, held every four years, is the only event other than the sporting competitions licensed to use the Olympic name, and the squad of seven chefs are relishing the opportunity to showcase New Zealand produce on the world stage.
“The opportunity to travel to the ultimate culinary competition doesn’t come around very often. We’re excited to not only learn from the talented chefs we’ll be competing against, but also share with them the ingredients and techniques that enable us to produce the high calibre of Kiwi cuisine that New Zealand is known for,” says team chef de mission Graham Hawkes, who represented New Zealand at the 1988 event.
NZ hasn’t taken part in the competition since that date, when the team won a gold at the hot kitchen event. The break in participation had been no small part due to lack of funding, and now the 28-year wait to get back in the Olympic arena is, thanks to major sponsorship from Fonterra, under the brand Anchor Food Professionals.
The seven-strong team are:
• Corey Hume: executive chef, Blanket Bay Lodge, Queenstown
• Darren Wright: owner/operator, Chillingworth Road, Christchurch
• Ganesh Khedekar: pastry tutor, NZMA, Auckland
• John Kelleher: senior lecturer of professional cookery, Auckland University of Technology
• Mark Sycamore: cookery tutor, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Christchurch
• Richard Hingston: head chef, Christchurch Casino
• Stephen le Corre: programme coordinator, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Christchurch