Three hospitality students from Rotorua have proven to be winners in and out of the kitchen, winning an innovation award, plus gold and silver medals at a prestigious culinary competition.
Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic culinary students Shivansh Uppal and Adrian Soriano went head-to-head at the weekend with hospitality students from around the country to win gold at the annual Torque d'Or culinary competition.
Restaurant service student Tania Williams, who also formed part of the team, picked up a silver medal for her efforts.
Mr Uppal and Mr Soriano battled it out for more than three hours against 10 other teams from around the country to create their medal winning three-course menu.
The team picked up the special innovation award for their use of Nestle Professional products across their menu.
The pressure was on throughout the live cook off, as the team fought against the clock and scrutiny of top industry judges including world renown chef Gert Klotzke of Sweden.
Waiariki chef tutor and team manager Jonathan Chemis said the team "really stepped up under pressure".
"One of the students was looking pretty green just before the competition started but as soon as he was into it, they were focused on getting everything done.
"You could see the passion both students have for cooking so when they found out they had placed, it was really emotional for them.
"They are glad they took part and to be recognised for their innovation was huge because it can be hard to know what criteria the judges are looking at."
Competing teams were marked against WorldChefs International Judging Standards which include food preparation, presentation, taste and service.
The event, which has been running for 26 years, is a key fixture on the culinary calendar and is hotly contested by the country's leading hospitality institutes.
The overall winner of the competition was a team from the Universal College of Learning in Palmerston North.