Three stressful hours and a box of 55 ingredients has seen an AUT University student take out a national cooking competition.
Xin Jing, a second year Diploma in Culinary Arts student, won the Taste of Japan New Zealand Japanese Fusion Cooking Competition at the Auckland Museum Event Centre on Saturday.
His prize is five nights in Tokyo, Japan, where he will have the chance to work in the kitchen of a five star Japanese restaurant, as well as $1000 to help make the experience one to remember.
Jing says he entered the competition to get a different cooking experience and widen the repertoire of cuisines he is able to cook.
He admits to having known very little about cooking in a Japanese style so some research was needed, yet breezed through the semi-finals with dishes including tea-smoked tuna, daikon (Japanese radish) puree and deep-fried tofu.
The finals were an AUT showdown, with his other competitor Whitney Kitchen, also a Diploma in Culinary Arts student (first year).
The two battled it out in a cook-off mystery box competition at the Auckland Museum as part of the wider Taste of Japan competition and both had to cook while an audience watched and a videographer filmed their efforts.
Given only half an hour to look at their ingredients and then two hours to cook was a challenge says Jing and it meant having an audience did not bother him.
“I didn’t have time to watch anyone else,” he says. “It went by very fast and there seemed like there was no time!”
Nerves played on his mind on the day of competition but obviously did not have any negative effects on his skills, with Jing producing a smoked miso chicken thigh served with smoked scallop, glazed snow peas, okra salad, deep-fried sakura ebi and an avocado and apple salad for his entrée.
For his main he made a miso beurre blanc poached snapper, served with eggplant puree, kowiniwini potato confit, glazed carrots, nuts and panko crumbs and a smoked shitake mushroom.
Jing took out the top prize, and will travel to Japan in February 2013 and Kitchen took home a barbecue.
The final competition was judged by Yosuke Sakakibara, the Japanese Consulate General’s chef, Masaru Morita, chef and owner Morita Restaurant, Kikuko Imai and AUT’s senior lecturers John Kelleher and Renny Aprea.