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Duck lays golden egg for aspiring apprentice chef


A perfect dish with a prophetic title has turned a highly talented young Waihi chef’s dream into reality.  

'Duck Odyssey’, a delicately cured duck breast with rich chicken liver parfait, won Aaron Kingsford the prestigious ServiceIQ Cookery Apprentice of the Year Award 2016 and the culinary journey of a lifetime to the world-famous Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

It is New Zealand’s toughest and most exciting competition for ambitious Kiwi apprentice chefs, offering them the tantalising opportunity to achieve recognition, expand skills and take their career to a whole new level.

All six entrants are upskilling on-job for an exciting career in the burgeoning gourmet industry through ServiceIQ’s Apprenticeship in Cookery programme.

Aaron was the only contestant to receive a gold medal. He impressed the judges with his all-round professionalism.   

“On the floor, he was calm under pressure, efficient, clean, tidy and he knew exactly what he was doing the whole time. All of the elements in his dish harmonised really well. Overall, it was very hard to fault him and he should be very proud of himself,” says judge Joel Martin.


ServiceIQ Dean Minchington says:

"It's important to support New Zealand's next generation of culinary stars, especially at a time when the industry is in urgent need of many more qualified chefs. It's a huge boost for Aaron's career, and testimony to the chefs who mentor him, and the significant advantages he has gained from upskilling on-job in a real live commercial kitchen."


Sam Scott, who has been training under acclaimed New Zealand chef Nic Watt at Sky City’s Masu restaurant, came second with a stunning and stylish dish of Dashi Crayfish tail, Uni Air and Pikopiko.

In addition to flavour, texture and seasoning, among the criteria, the judges looked for control, skill, technical proficiency, hygiene, food safety, and plating style.

Aaron will attend the inspiring Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in 2017, worth around $3000, while all finalists will receive a prize pack from, and become members of the prestigious NZ Chefs’ Association.

The other finalists were: Camila Niewlands from Pure Café Co in Christchurch; Lianna Connor from The Cellar Door Café in Nelson; Jacob Kanters from Fahrenheit Restaurant & Bar in Te Awamutu, and Mathew Greig from Victoria Street Bistro in Hamilton.