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Crowne Plaza Queenstown to host culinary spectacular with budding young local chefs

June 25, 2013 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

Crowne Plaza Queenstown is once again stepping up to the plate, hosting a culinary charity spectacular to showcase the creative masterpieces of some of the town’s best budding young chefs.

Held at the hotel’s award-winning Threesixty restaurant, local foodies will have the opportunity to sample sublime food created by six local high school students who, until five weeks ago, had never stepped foot inside a professional kitchen.

Alice Ward, Haruka Arai, and Cassey Strachan practice their dishes ahead of finale dinner at Crowne Plaza Queenstown_media

Alice Ward, Haruka Arai, and Cassey Strachan practice their dishes ahead of finale dinner at Crowne Plaza Queenstown_media

The evening will be the culmination of the Wakatipu Youth Trust’s ‘Beyond the Basics -Top Chef’ initiative where local youth undertake a five-week chef mentoring programme.

In that time the six youngsters, all 15 to 16-year-olds attending Wakatipu High School, worked with different local chefs each week to create a mouth-watering dish which they’ll then recreate themselves on the finale dinner night.

The budding chefs have received tips and hints from Martin James at Wai, Danny Miller from Skyline, Ian Sherwood from Bella Cucina, Jason Moss from Waitiri Creek and Ricky Isnanto from Crowne Plaza.

The exceptional menu will include pan-seared New Zealand scallops on butternut pureé with a fresh green salad, pan-seared local venison on polenta, with an autumn baby vegetable salad finished with honey truffle dressing, slow braised beef cheeks with butternut, cavolo nero, pine nut and raisins, and a delightful dessert to be revealed on the night.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown Executive Chef Ricky Isnanto said he was “over the moon” with the way the young chefs had embraced each dish and that it had been a “real privilege” to be involved.

Budding young chefs practice their dishes for finale dinner at Crowne Plaza Queenstown_media

Budding young chefs practice their dishes for finale dinner at Crowne Plaza Queenstown_media

“These guys have worked so hard to get here and they promise to step up and produce some amazing dishes on the night that will certainly wow diners,” Mr Isnanto said.

“Cooking for 80 people is a tough enough job as a fully-trained chef, but these kids have only created each dish once before. It’s a phenomenal achievement and one they should be very proud of.

“All the other mentor chefs will be on hand to assist and we’re behind them 100%.”

Held on July 9 at 6.30pm, tickets are available prior to the event from Crowne Plaza and cost $65 per person for three courses and a glass of Peregrine Saddleback Pinot Noir.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Wakatipu Youth Trust to enable the charity to run similar programmes in the future and ensure they provide a variety of fun, interactive initiatives to promote confidence and independence in local youth, and encourage them to take an active part in the Wakatipu community.

A scholarship at Cromwell Polytechnic’s Level 3 Cookery course, valued at over $6,000, will be awarded to the student that has shown the most promise and talent and has an interest in becoming a chef once they finish school.

Wakatipu Youth Trust Youth Worker Nathan Baxter said the programme was in its third year and was always a huge success.

“The chef programme empowers them to become a part of our community and not only builds their confidence but also enables them to see if a career as a chef interests them,” Mr Baxter said.

“Over the five weeks they’ve got to meet lots of great people and get an insight into some fantastic kitchens and businesses along the way.

“The programme inspires them to know that they can make their dream a reality.”

Previous graduates have gone on to take up roles in some of Queenstown’s best restaurants.

“We’re a not-for-profit organisation and we couldn’t put on a programme like this without the generosity of the local restaurants, chefs, wineries and food suppliers that donate their produce and time for the event,” Mr Baxter said.

“The final dinner will be a great evening of wonderful food and entertainment from High School students Lucy and Izzy.

“It’ll be a great way to end the challenge and the students are so excited to cook their dishes for their friends, family and locals.”

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