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NZMA Shines at NZChefs National Salon

Medals and accolades came thick and fast for NZMA students, graduates and their tutors at this year’s NZChefs National Salon, the largest hospitality competition in the country.

The four-day event, which draws the crème de la crème of hospitality professionals and chefs from around New Zealand, took place at the ASB Showgrounds,NZMA Margarine sculpt with competitors battling it out in a wide range of categories.

Recent NZMA graduate Suchit Chhetri was named New Zealand’s Cocktail Champion of the Year, while NZMA cookery tutor Henrietta Agarwal won a gold medal for her spectacular celebration cake - a chandelier dangling from a hook, dripping in shiny edible crystals. NZMA students came away with nine gold medals, thirteen silver and nine bronze, along with two Best in Shows awards – one to cookery student Deepak Billa for his Innovative Café Salad, and the other to Weitao Wang (Max) for his incredible margarine sculpture. This is the first time an NZMA student has ever entered the Margarine Sculpting Buffet Showpiece Static event, and it was also a first for Max himself, who has just started food sculpting and up until about three weeks prior to the competition had never even laid eyes on margarine!

“It was the first time I’ve ever used margarine so there was quite a bit of trial and error with my sculpture. It ended up taking me nearly 200 hours to create, and around 70 of those hours were spent working on the finer details. I really enjoyed the process though, and once I got used to it I loved the feel of working with the margarine, as it is actually quite easy to manipulate,” said Max.

His sculpture, dubbed the Thinking Chef, is 1.2 metres tall and weighs in at 140kgs. It depicts the power of a chef, in regards to both mental creativity and physical strength. Sitting on a stack of pots and wearing a chef’s hat, this culinary master is even wearing Crocs!

NZMA Sylvia Park Campus Manager for Hospitality & Business Nishat Elavia said the students performed extremely well in all their events, proving yet again that they were amongst the best in the industry.

“Everyone did an outstanding job and we are extremely proud of what they’ve all achieved. The NZChefs National Salon is such an excellent platform for trainees and professionals to test their skills against others in the industry, and our NZMA students certainly shone!”

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