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Toroa chefs take top honours in annual competition

Monday, 3 July 2017 10:21pm

Winning chefs Sumi Yoo (left) and Tracey Leishman of Toroa College. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

A pair of first-rate chefs from Toroa College took top honours in the ninth annual University of Otago Residential Chef of the Year Competition held in the Information Services Link last Thursday evening.

Sumi Yoo and Tracey Leishman out-cooked teams from seven other University of Otago residential colleges, to take home the first place trophy, ‘Chef of the Year’ plaque and a year’s worth of bragging rights. Second place went to Chloe Cousins and Leo Policurpio of Cumberland College, with Brian Galvin and Alquen Duran of Aquinas College coming third.


The annual Masterchef-style competition saw the eight teams battle for 70 minutes to produce two courses and two portions of each course with mystery ingredients.

This year’s mystery ingredients were pork loins, king prawns, mussels, scallops and tamarillo.

A large crowd gathered to watch the chefs sweat under the pressure, and many people participated in cupcake decorating competitions, blind tastings featuring foods such as lamb and tofu, and a “Guess the Weight” competition with the opportunity to win hams and chicken packs. Emcee Damian Newall provided entertainment by narrating these events, and interviewed each competing chef team about their meals as they worked.


Catering Manager of Campus and Collegiate Life Gary McNeill called the competition a “great way to celebrate a group of ‘unsung heroes’ on campus” and said he was always pleased with the level of enthusiasm the chefs brought to the competition.

The judging panel was comprised of Tony Hepinstall (Head Chef Tutor at Otago Polytechnic), Chris Moore (Sous Chef at Vault 21 and Prohibition Smokehouse) and Shane Gibson (Southern Hospitality). Speaking after the judges’ deliberation, Mr Hepinstall noted that it was “great to give [the chefs] the opportunity to express their skills outside of their regular roles.”


Knox College chef James Clarke said this was his second year competing, and he felt his motto was “fun is number one.”

“As long as everyone had fun – that’s the point of the competition.”

Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne presented the awards to the winning teams, and briefly spoke of the importance and skill of the chefs at residential colleges.

“The work of these chefs is an amazing part of the pastoral care provided at our colleges.”