It was a tough decision, but the top 12 teams for Junior Master Chef Rotorua have been selected and it's a busy time of practice for them as they prepare.
The competition will take place on Easter Weekend, March 30 to April 1, at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
It will involve a mystery box challenge, cooking tasks and a finale.
John Paul College students Olivia Schweizer, 13, and Skye du Plessis, 13, say they are looking forward to getting the feel of what it is like to cook in a competition, and think coming up with creative ideas better than others will be hard.
John Paul College student Leo Schweizer, 13, says he loves watching Masterchef and cooking competitions.
Leo says he finds cooking satisfying because you put in a lot of effort and then you can eat and enjoy the food.
He says he is looking forward to cooking in a competition in a big kitchen - "it will be like a step up".
He thinks making the hollandaise sauce for eggs benedict will be quite a challenge.
Rotorua Lakes High School student Kirsty Lyall, 15, and Mokoia Intermediate pupil Caitlin Lang, 12, are looking forward to having fun and spending time with each other.
St Mary's Catholic School pupils Maiah Ngawhika, 10, and Teuila Schuster, 10, say they are both from different cultures and want to show people their different cultures through the food.
They say cooking is like a science experiment and mixing things together is satisfying.
John Paul College pupil Kate Liley, 12, says she entered because she wanted to try something new and learn new skills which can help her in the future.
She says her aunty is a real foodie - "when I go to hers for dinner the food is always amazing and I always want to be able to make food like this".
John Paul College pupils Ruby Campbell, 11, and Charlize Dahya, 11, say they have a passion for cooking and are looking forward to the challenge and all the different foods they will cook.
Malfroy Primary School pupils Jurnee Leonard, 11, and Lauren Smith, 11, say they are looking forward to learning new things and the mystery box challenge.
They like trying to make foods compliment each other and experimenting with flavours.
John Paul College, William La Grouw, 12, and Brayden Atkinson, 11, say they wanted a challenge.
They are looking forward to getting better at cooking and enjoying the competition.
Organiser and local chef Deep Thakur says they had 200 entries, including from Queenstown and Wellington.
He says cutting the entries down had involved hard decisions, and instead of taking 10 teams decided they had to have 12.
The bottom three teams will have a cook-off first thing on Friday morning to determine who will move on to the mystery box challenge, he says.
"They are really talented kids. I can't wait to see how they create the dishes.
"The depth of knowledge they've got - I can't believe it."
The award ceremony will take place at Lakeland Queen.
The judges include Lakeland Queen owner Terry Hammond, Lakeland Queen executive chef Marcus Dietzel, and Freelance Catering owner and Wai Ora Spa former executive chef Oat Daman.
The winners will receive a Junior Master Chef Rotorua trophy and a $2000 cash prize, as well as cooking one night at Giovanni's Restaurant.
The runners-up will also receive a trophy and a $500 cash prize.
The competitions sponsors include Lakeland Queen, Bidfood, Nick from Fenton Quality Produce, Toi Ohomai and Food Master Rotorua which is sponsoring the uniform.