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From NZMA East Auckland to East Asia in the Name of Fine Food

A St Johns mum of three will head to Ho Chi Minh City next week to represent New Zealand in a culinary competition.

Tuaine Taringa, a culinary arts student at NZMA in Sylvia Park, is one of six top cookery students from around the country who has been selected for the NZ Viet Nam Culinary Collaboration. The competition has been organised by Education New Zealand, and will showcase New Zealand’s expertise in vocational training. It coincides with the launch of Air New Zealand’s direct flights from Auckland to Ho Chi Minh City, starting on 4 June.
Three teams of four trainee-chefs will go head to head to create the ultimate three-course meal using a combination of Vietnamese and Kiwi ingredients. The winningTuaine Taringa team will cook for 150 guests, including Hon Steven Joyce, at a Gala dinner at Ho Chi Minh’s prestigious Caravelle Hotel on 6 June.

“I’m so excited – and also a bit scared,” says Tuaine. “Apart from visiting the Cook Islands and Australia, I haven’t been overseas, so it will be a real adventure. My kids and my parents are really proud that I’ve been chosen.”

Tuaine has been charged with creating her team’s dessert, which she is currently working on under the watchful eye of NZMA patisserie tutor and award winning pastry chef Ganesh Khedekar.

“It’s going to be based around coconut, vanilla and mango – although the dish itself is top secret! I’m spending a couple of hours each day fine-tuning it. I hope that it will be a winner.”

Tuaine’s team comprises two Vietnamese cookery students and another from a Christchurch cookery school.

Head of Faculty for Culinary Arts at NZMA, Jasbir Kaur, says the talented 33-year-old was an obvious choice for the competition.

“She is extremely creative and hardworking. She is always up for a challenge and is really good at thinking outside of the box.”

For Tuaine it’s the chance of a lifetime to showcase her talents, and pick up some tips from a cuisine renowned worldwide for its fresh flavours.

“When I think of Viet Nam, the first thing I think of is amazing street food. I’ve heard so much about it and I can’t wait to try it all.”

Before enrolling at NZMA last year, Tuaine spent ten years as a stay-at-home mum. Cooking for her growing family inspired her to return to the classroom.

“I wanted to learn how to use different flavours and techniques, instead of cooking the same things day in day out for my family. It’s been amazing. I’ve learnt so much, and my family is delighted!”

It’s also given her some great career prospects.

“Once I finish my NZMA diploma I’d like to take my culinary arts studies further and eventually find a way to combine my love of cooking with my interest in international cuisine.”

The NZ Viet Nam Culinary Collaboration will be a great place for her to start.

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