Rotorua's culinary hopefuls are about to pit their kitchen skills against the best trainee chefs in the country in this year's Nestle Toque d'Or competition.
Twelve teams from across the country have signed up for the contest already, classed as the country's premier student culinary and restaurant service competition.
Event organiser Pip Duncan said the popular event always attracted widespread interest and this year was no exception.
Teams comprise two culinary students and one restaurant service student with students hand-picked by tutors to ensure they best represent their respective establishments at the event.
"They'll be expected to go head-to-head in a live kitchen cook-off to produce six covers of a three-course meal in just two-and-a-half-hours," she said.
"This is serious stuff with the event serving as a potential springboard for the future development of competitors' careers. As with any live cook off, there's no room for error and only the best and brightest will succeed."
This year's 16-strong panel of judges will again be headed up by Sky City director of kitchens Mark Wylie.
Students are scored across a number of areas including food preparation, hygiene, presentation, taste and service of food.
They must also meet strict time deadlines for delivery and must develop unique menus using pre-determined ingredients including Nestlé Professional products, Akaroa Salmon and Zealfresh Beef.
Last year, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology took out the top spot in the competition for the 13th time in the competition's 20 year history.
Nestlé Toque d'Or will be held at the ASB Auckland Showgrounds in Greenlane in Auckland on July 18.