Thu 15 Mar 2018

Hawera's high moment

The annual quest to be part of a secondary school team which shares Womad stage time in the Taste the World marquee with celebrity chef Jax Hamilton comes with some demands.

The winning team of three are required to show qualities beyond the oven top. Most significantly, they have to be confident with public speaking, and adaptable.

Hawera High Year 11 trio Hannah Bray, Nina Devlin and Kate Mackay showed they had those qualities in spades at WITT when they beat six other teams to win the annual TSB Community Trust Cook-Off on Wednesday.

Kate revealed that during the competition the team realised they were short of flour and sugar – and had added more chilli to their main course than intended. Showing great adaptability they tweaked their recipes while placing faith in the cooling qualities of the yoghurt in their Moroccan Ksra bread.

They presented the judges with the ksra bread, which featured spiced chicken, carrot salad and dressing, and an Orange Cake.

Judge Jax Hamilton was impressed by the team's quick thinking when she heard the story of the flour and sugar soon after naming Hawera's team as winners.

Earlier she said she had been judging the event for seven years and knew how hard it was to bring love to a dish while in a competitive environment. But she continued to be inspired by the quality of dishes presented.

Koren Miller, Hawera High's hospitality teacher - who completed her diploma in Professional Cookery at WITT - had previously celebrated a second placing in the competition. She said she had been confident her 2018 team would do well in the competition at WITT and after they were named winners she had no doubt the three would also excel on stage.

Jax Hamilton's fellow judges were Jane Shearer and Mark Louis. Jane Shear said she had been involved in the event for four years and it continued to improve. Mark Louis was impressed to see young people showing passion about food and encouraged the winning team to be vibrant and "put it out there" when they took the stage at Womad.

NZ Chefs Taranaki Branch President and WITT Trades Faculty Leader Angela Ferguson said the Polytech loved hosting the competition, which was an ideal lead into the Taranaki Hospitality Competitions to be hosted at WITT on June 18.

The day will feature competitions in 20 classes offered to secondary, training and industry competitors from throughout Taranaki.

Up for grabs, too, will be a place in the final of the National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge to be judged in Auckland in September.  

Picture: Winners, from left, Hannah Bray, Nina Devlin and Kate Mackay pictured with Jax Hamilton at WITT.