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Source: University of Otago

University College chefs Corey Scott (left) and Richard Fuentes won first place in the University Chef of the Year Competition.
For the first time in the 12 year history of the annual Chef of the Year competition, University College has come out on top.
The competition pits teams of two from the University’s residential college kitchens against one another to cook up a two course meal using ingredients only revealed in a “mystery box” on the night.

“It’s always good to cook in front of a lot of people. It’s different than what we normally do.”

In keeping with the University’s sustainable goals, this year the mystery ingredients included three low-emission produced ingredients for the teams to choose from: a plant-based protein likened to beef, tofu or blue cod.
The mystery ingredient they were they were required to incorporate into at least one of their meals was a vegan cream.
In the end it was the two chefs from University College who came out on top of the seven teams representing nine of the University’s residential colleges.
Chef Corey Scott says he is “pretty ecstatic” about the win. “It was nice to finally get a win for UniCol.”
Normally tasked with cooking for University College’s 538 residents, Mr Scott says there is a big difference in having to only cook two small meals in an hour.
“It’s always good to cook in front of a lot of people. It’s different than what we normally do.”
He says it is always a great event. Mr Scott and teammate Richard Fuentes produced a pan-fried blue cod with kumara mash and a potato crisp, alongside a brazo de Mercedes as a dessert.
The blue cod with kumara mash and brazo de Mercedes that University College chefs Corey Scott and Richard Fuentes presented in the competition.
Mr Scott says one of the most challenging parts of the competition is thinking of how to put a lot of ideas into just one dish and make it balanced.
Second place went to Carrington College chefs Linda Rickard and Kieran Stevenson, with Arana College chefs Louanne Ratapu and Mara Dongoran taking the third place podium.
The three judges who deliberated together to determine the fate of the chefs were Otago Polytechnic Head Chef Tutor Tony Heptinstall, National Project Manager, Southern Hospitality Project Coordinator Oliver Drayton and Kaans Food Supplies Sales Representative Clayton Hope.
While the teams were busy cooking their meals, there was plenty to see and do for spectators and fans with the inaugural “Food Show” on the night as well as several competitions.
Competition Organiser University Catering Manager Gary McNeill says this gave the audience an opportunity to try new “tasty treats on the market” from some of the University’s food suppliers.
Mr McNeill says the Competition could not go ahead without the outstanding sponsorship from Kaans Food Service Catering Supplies and Southern Hospitality Ltd.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, last year’s event had to be held behind closed doors and without an audience.
“It was great to have the spectators back and our large setup in the Link,” Mr McNeill says.
He says overall this year’s competition went very well given that the mystery box ingredient was “a bit left field”.

MIL OSI