Whanganui UCOL students excelled in hospitality competitions in New Plymouth on Monday.

All eight students gained medals in the trainee chef categories.

Leading the charge were class winners Sophie Couper (celebration cake), Alicia Te Mana (soup), Kataraina Hurinui (pasta) and Sueanne Hasler (cheesecake).

It was the first time UCOL students had entered the competitions since 2015 and cookery lecturer Gina Guigou said she was proud of what they achieved.


"These students are really engaged," Guigou said.

"They drove the preparation for the competitions and they put in a lot of additional hours outside of class."

Te Mana, Hurinui and Hasler also won gold medals, while Couper and Nicholas Hinga (soup) received silver. Bronze medals were picked up by Hurinui (cupcakes), Hinga (cheese omelette), Isaac Chase-Whareaorere (cafe breakfast), Duy Do (cafe breakfast) and Gurkirat Singh (cheese omelette).

Couper has been running her own cake business for a year, but the three-tier cake she entered in the competition is the biggest she has made.

She spent three days baking and constructing her winning wedding cake, calling it a "crazy, stressful and cool experience".

Guigou said the competitions tested students' cooking and baking skills against their peers and helped build confidence.

"For me it was about seeing what the students can achieve, so that they can overcome other obstacles that might come their way," Guigou said.

"It was also an opportunity for them to do something outside of Whanganui."