The top 12 teams for Junior MasterChef Rotorua are gearing up for a tough competition.

The cooking action takes place this Easter Weekend, Friday to Sunday, at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

On Friday contestants face a mystery box challenge and a gourmet burger challenge, on Saturday they tackle a breakfast dish and classic pasta dish, and on Sunday they must whip up the finale, a three-course meal.

The award ceremony is on Sunday evening 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.

Hammond said he looks forward to the participation of all these amazing children.

"They really spoke with conviction about food in the interviews. I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table."

He said as a judge he would be looking for three things - presentation, whether it tasted as good as it looked, and whether the combination of flavours was right.

For Lakeland Queen it was a way of giving back to the community, he said, because the children involved were not only doing something they were passionate about, but the competition had a constructive element to it where the kids could apply these skills later in life or with their families.

Hammond was also excited about the winning team cooking their menu in Giovanni's restaurant, which would be paid for by the customers.

"I said to the contestants there is only one judge of food and that's the customers.

"I'm looking forward to seeing them cook in a commercial environment and see how they respond to it."


Organiser and local chef Deep Thakur said most of the children want to be chefs in the future so this was great experience for them.

He said he had done a one-on-one session with each of the contestants, giving them a few tips.

"The kids had innovative ideas and it's been really good. They are feeling pretty confident now."

He said this was a big show, costing about $20,000.

The winners will receive a Junior MasterChef 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, as well as a $500 cash prize.

The competition's sponsors included Lakeland Queen, Bidfood, Nick from Fenton Quality Produce, Toi Ohomai and Food Master Rotorua which was sponsoring the uniform.

Tickets were still available for the award ceremony. They cost $15 and could be bought at Giovanni's Restaurant or email