As a third-generation chef, working with food was always going to be on the table for Sam Heaven.
Heaven has established himself as one of Australasia's best young chefs, winning the coveted Nestle Golden Chef's Hat Award.
Heaven fended off tough competition from 10 other leading chefs around New Zealand and Australia to win the competition for chefs aged under 25. Along with the title, he also took home a prize of A$10,000.
The contestants competed in commercial kitchens with a judge or a representative from the Australian Culinary Federation onsite to taste their dishes.
At the same time, their efforts were live-streamed to a team of judges, who were scoring them on their skills and techniques.
The 22-year-old's winning dish was lamb heart with sunchoke.
Heaven said the virtual aspect of the competition played into his hands.
"I decided to take an approach that you wouldn't be able to in a normal competition," he said.
"I was really behind the chance to have no boundaries and no guidelines and just cook the dish that you wanted to cook."
Heaven said the preparation of his winning dish took up to a week, including fermentation.
"I did a technique where I had to cook the sunchoke, then dehydrate it for two days and rehydrate it again," he added.
The chef started working at the five-star Park Hyatt Hotel in Auckland in September.
He said winning the contest, alongside a great job, has brought his "fight" back.
"It means a lot because it's come out of a year that has been quite a struggle in the restaurant industry," Heaven said.
"Most chefs my age had a lot of plans to go overseas and travel this year but it's been put on hold. The opportunity this competition gave us was amazing – it put the fight back inside of us."
Heaven is a third-generation foodie, with both his father and grandfather working as pastry chefs, owning Heaven's Bakery in Hawke's Bay.
Heaven had always thought he too would venture into the world of pastry.
"It wasn't until high school – where I had a teacher who was passionate about cooking, that helped shape my career to the way it's gone now."
Alongside the Heaven family's involvement in all things culinary, the chef said they also share a love for art.
"I did art all through growing up," he said.
Heaven said food is the medium he chose to bring out this artistic side.
"My favourite thing about plating is making people artwork - something that looks as amazing as it tastes."
Nestle Professional business executive officer Scott Stuckmann said they were determined to keep the competition alive so young chefs could put themselves to the test and elevate their careers.
"We promised to stand by our chef community, and we did exactly that," Stuckmann said.