Seven trainee chefs from across the country have been announced as finalists this week in the annual Fonterra Foodservices Proud to be a Chef competition in NZ.

The Proud to be a Chef competition finalists are: Ashley Batey from HSI in Hastings, Brendan Baucke from Otago Polytechnic Cromwell Campus, Elliott Pinn from CIPT Christchurch, Emma Holden from Otago Polytechnic, Gabriella Amesbury from Auckland University of Technology, Joshua Black from SKYCITY Auckland and Teresa Joe from Auckland University of Technology.
 
Their entries were selected by top chefs Tony Astle and Jeremy Schmidt, along with Renny Aprea and Gary Miller from the New Zealand Chefs Association.
 
The seven will be put through their paces in a series of culinary challenges at a cook off event to decide the New Zealand winners at AUT’s Piko Restaurant on 16 November. Each young chef will cook their original recipe which will be sampled and judged by a second panel of judges including the esteemed Ray McVinnie.
 
The event will decide the two New Zealand apprentice chefs who will be up for an expenses-paid, once in a lifetime educational opportunity at the annual Fonterra Foodservices Proud to be a Chef final in Melbourne in 2011. The prize includes three nights’ hotel accommodation and three nights dining at award winning Melbourne restaurants.
 
Here they will have hands-on mentoring and inspirational Masterclasses with world leading chefs, mix with industry leaders and talk about exciting career development options. The overall Australasian winner will receive an international culinary sponsorship valued at $7,500, tailored to the winners’ aspirations for their professional career as a chef.
 
Stephanie Hague, Communications and New Product Development Manager for Fonterra Foodservices, says the company is proud to be involved in supporting and nurturing young talent and providing great opportunities to inspire and reward the efforts of trainee chefs.
 
“Fonterra Foodservices Proud to be a Chef is one of the most prestigious mentoring programmes for young chefs in this part of the world and we are delighted to show our support in developing of culinary talent in New Zealand. This year’s competition is bigger and better, providing extra opportunity for the chefs to demonstrate their abilities,” says Hague.
 
The judges were looking for a mix of passion, ambition and committment and were impressed with the calibre on offer in this year’s competition.
 
“Those young chefs who we want to support in this industry will have enthusiasm, the right attitude and a real desire to learn,” said judge Tony Astle. “Seven entries really stood out for us, and that’s why we have sent each of them through to the final Cook Off challenge.”
 
Rhys Barrington, a 2009 Proud to be a Chef finalist from Christchurch is a fine example of the great things that can come from being involved. Over and above the trip to Melbourne, Rhys had the opportunity to stay on for a week after the Australasian final and gain work experience at the famed Maha Bar and Grill under innovative chef, Shane Delia, who was one of the competition judges.
 
While Proud to be a Chef has an eight-year history in Australia, the event has been reinvented by Fonterra Foodservices in 2008 as a way to publicly recognise and reward the vital contribution that chefs make to the industry.
 
Fonterra Foodservices Proud to be a Chef competition is open to all apprentice chefs, 18 years or older, who will in March 2011 be enrolled in a cooking training course at a government recognised training provider. Entrants must be New Zealanders, or hold a valid New Zealand work permit.
 
Visit http://www.fonterrafoodservices.co.nz/ for information.

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