EIT hospitality students are sharpening their knives as they prepare to do battle in a live kitchen and restaurant cook-off in Auckland today.
Culinary students Kayla Hughes and Sabrina Faes and front of house student Ashleigh Butler will vie against 33 other hospitality students nationwide in a bid to take out top honours in the annual Nestl Toque d'Or.
From Hastings, Kayla is a second-year Diploma in Professional Chef Practice student while Swiss-born Sabrina, from Waimarama, is in the first year of the programme.
From Napier, Ashleigh is studying the one-year Certificate in Front of House Operations (Advanced).
Competition organiser Anita Sarginson - national president of the New Zealand Chefs Association and operations manager for The Flying Burrito Brothers - says the students will be competing in an event that is highly-regarded by the hospitality industry.
"Competitors are placed in a high-pressure environment where they have to perform at their very best if they want to take out the coveted top award," Sarginson said.
Teams, each with three students, must impress a top panel of industry judges as they cook and serve six covers of a three-course meal.
Competitors develop their own menus and must meet strict time deadlines for delivering each course.
The judges mark each team against World Association of Chefs Societies' international judging standards covering food preparation, presentation, taste and service.
The 24th Nestl Toque d'Or competition will be held today.