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National Secondary School Culinary Challenge


The knives were out … as were the smoking machines, sous vide ovens, vacuum sealers and a vast array of pots, pans, jugs and plates. Sixteen of the most talented hospitality students in New Zealand took on the ultimate food battle – the chance to win the coveted title of 2018’s National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge.

Maggie Carroll and Lisa Khorozova, of Burnside High School in Christchurch were declared the winners of the competition.

“We really didn’t think we’d win – we had to rush the plating at the end!” says Liza. “We hoped for a silver medal, but to win is amazing.” “Our flavours worked well together though, and we get on as a team – even when we were stressed, we weren’t stressed at each other,” agrees Maggie.

The level of skill and creativity in all the regional competitions for the National Secondary School Culinary Challenge (NSSCC) has been universally impressive. Students made excellent use of fresh New Zealand grown tomatoes as the principal component of an entrée with some stunning dishes including gazpacho, consommé, tasting plates, scones, tarts, sauces and pinwheels. Students had 60 minutes to complete their dishes under the watchful eye of the judges.

“We never stop judging from the moment the clock starts to the last second of the competition,” explains Janet McKay, head judge of the Auckland – South regional competition. “We’re watching everything from knife skills, hygiene and cookery methods, to how closely their dish matches their recipe cards, their timing and whether they would be ticking the right boxes if they were working in a commercial restaurant.” 

The winners of NSSCC 2018:

Winner: Maggie Carroll and Lisa Khorozova, of Burnside High School

Entrée: Tomato Tart with Fresh Tomato & Basil Salad, Manuka Smoke Tomato Foam and Goats Cheese, accompanied by a Rich Tomato Sauce

Main: Chicken Breast with Broad Bean Farce on Truffle Potato Puree with Petite Crumbed Sausage, Seasonal Vegetables with Jus and Tarragon Cream Sauce

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The winners from regional events:

Winner: Latisha Robinson, Wellington Trades Academy

Dish: Tomato dumpling with prawns in a tomato soup.

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Hawke's Bay

Winner: Kelsey Stubbs, Napier Girls’ High School

Dish: Tomato tapas 4 ways: Virgin Mary yellow tomato shot, candied tomatoes with bacon sprinkle, mozzarella-stuffed tomato with sundried tomato cracker, with a mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil side salad.

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Winner: Britney Walsh, Whanganui High School

Dish: Terrine of tomato, serviced with a cracker crumb and tomato butter soil, with a tomato salsa shot.

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Winner: Maggie Carroll, Burnside High School

Dish: Tomato tart with fresh tomato and basil salad, manuka smoked tomato foam and goat cheese with a rich tomato sauce.

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Winner: Liam Hynd, Kings High School, Dunedin

Dish: Glazed tomatoes, baked smoked cheesecake with a pastry crisp and rocket and baby cress salad.

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Auckland – South

Winner: Isabella Vaikai, Manurewa High School

Dish: Ika Mata: Marinated Kingfish, manuka-smoked Curious Croppers tomato, coconut, cucumber and spring onion in a tomato consommé.

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Auckland – North

Winner: Bara Kralova, Long Bay College

Dish: Tomato tartare: Dehydrated tomato rose with caramelised onion and cream cheese with tomato powder and herb dressing.

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To view more of the photos from the regional events check out ServiceIQ Instagram page.