To suggestions she might have been a bit harder on the students and set the bar higher this year during judging, celebrity chef Jax Hamilton wasn't about to disagree.
But she was in no doubt the standard she was judging was lifting too.
At stake was a place on stage with her in the Taste the World marquee at Womad and 24 students, eight teams of three from Taranaki colleges, put on a high quality performance in the WITT kitchens today to convince the judges to pick them.
Hamilton was helped by fellow judges Damian Gould and Jane Shearer who challenged not only their culinary skills but also their ability to help Hamilton run her how.
"It's about raising the energy and performing on top of that energy – if you lose the energy you lose the audience,'' Hamilton told the students. "We've got 45 minutes – what are you going to do? Can you boogie?"
Yes, the students replied.
New Plymouth Boys High School won the coveted first prize, meaning passes and stage time at Womad for Kaea Beggs, Lachie Smith and Logan Ring.
Sacred Heart and New Plymouth Girls High finished second and third.
But Hamilton said the students from Inglewood, Hawera, Waitara and Spotswood were also winners.
"It was beautiful to see the caring and sharing between the teams," she said.
Picture: Lachie Smith and Logan Ring prepare their winning dish.