Three local hospitality students will put their culinary and restaurant service skills to the test next month as they battle it out in an elite national culinary competition.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology culinary arts students Mikael Aranga-Papuni, Bethaney Allen and Mikey Takiwa will compete against hospitality students from across the country to impress a panel of top industry judges at the prestigious Nestle Toque d'Or competition in Auckland on July 30.
The teams of three students must cook and serve, within an allotted timeframe, six covers of a three-course meal that they have developed themselves. At the same time, their performance is marked by the judges using WorldChefs International Judging Standards.
The trio said they were excited and nervous for the competition and were looking forward to reaping the rewards of taking part in such a highly esteemed contest.
"For me it's about the opportunities that come from taking part in the competition, I hope my involvement in it will take me further in my career," Mr Takiwa said.
"The biggest struggle for me will be the timeframe, anything can happen in a short amount of time and if you've used your ingredients wrong, that's it, you can't get more," Ms Aranga-Papuni said.
Ms Allen, who saw last year's students prepare and perform, said it was "very intense" watching them.
"It doesn't really ease the pressure but I guess it helps to know what we are in store for."
Team manager Jonathan Chemis said the pressure was on to perform well this year.
"This is the first year our students will be representing the new institute, Toi Ohomai, so it will be setting the standard for years to come.
"There will also be a Toi Ohomai team from the Tauranga campus but I think from next year the institute will have just one team."
Mr Chemis said they had learned a lot since their first competition eight years ago.
"This will be the eighth year we've sent students to the competition and we've seen our students' performances go from strength to strength. We know what the judges are looking for and know what works best with the ingredients we have to work with."
Nestle Toque d'Or will be held at the Auckland Showgrounds.