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Winning form . Proud teacher Lynda Paul with pupils (from left) Hayden Jefferson (18), Callum Bowmar (16) and Matt Kennedy (17). PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Three Timaru Boys’ High boarders’ culinary and hospitality skills gained them medals in Ara Institute of Canterbury food and beverage competitions in Christchurch last week.

Working under pressure, Matt Kennedy (first in the secondary schools’ culinary challenge, a silver medal in the cafe burger section and bronze in the live beef or lamb), Callum Bowmar (bronze in live beef or lamb) and Hayden Jefferson (bronze, barista skills) achieved notable success.

In each of the food sections, Matt and Callum had one hour to prepare, cook and present their items.

In the barista section, Hayden had five minutes to set up, 12 minutes to prepare two espresso coffees, two mochaccinos and two flat whites and then five minutes to clean up.

“I’ve never had boys go to competitions and get medals like this before,” teacher Lynda Paul said.

“I asked if they wanted to go to the competition and these guys took the opportunity and ran with it.”

Pivotal to their success was the pupils’ having attended an Ara Timaru pathway course where they had regular contact with chefs Steve Le Corre, Rob Coulter and Wally Katene.

Matt did extensive experimenting before coming up with his winning dish in the entree section of the schools challenge. He will now go on to the National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge final in Auckland.

He had to prepare two plated portions of an entree with carrots as the main component.

Comprising blue cheese custard topped with roasted carrot, shortcrust pastry with walnut and pickled carrot and orange salad, it impressed chief judge Mark Sycamore of Blanket Bay, a luxury resort near Queenstown, who said the dish had excellent presentation and nice flavour combinations.

“When I won I was speechless,” Matt said.

More than 70 contestants took part in the 18 categories of the competition, which was open to school pupils as well as trainee chefs and all levels of the hospitality industry.

Competition organiser Stuart Goodall said success in the event had positive consequences.

“Having on your CV that you competed and won goes a long, long way.”

The national final in Auckland allows competitors to have an assistant and Matt will be accompanied by Callum.

To help pay for the trip a pop-up restaurant fundraiser will be held at Timaru Boys’ High.