Five AUT culinary arts students rolled up their sleeves and prepared their best summer pear recipes for a panel of judges in the AUT University/USA Pears cook off.
The winning dish, combining crayfish and pears, was created by Gabriella Amesbury, a first year student, who took the top prize at the competition held in the training kitchens at AUT University’s city campus.
The challenge to “Smarten Up Your Summer With Pears” was given to students in June. Participating students were given two kilograms of USA pears each and had to come up with new and exciting ways to use them in summer recipes – in a salad or with barbeque meals.
The judging panel included AUT senior lecturer Renny Aprea and lecturer John Kelleher, award winning restaurant Two Fifteen Bistro & Bar owner Jeremy Schmid, and Lisa Cork from USA Pears.
The “trio of crayfish and pear” included a succulent crayfish cooked in a pear beurre blanc, crayfish wrapped in a pear shaving, accompanied by a pear, strawberry and crayfish salad.
The judges said the winning dish was outstanding. “Students always have fresh and new approaches to working with food. It was refreshing to see the different combinations they all came up with. The winning dish stood out for us because of the creative use of pear and the successful fusion of the crayfish and pear flavours. It was a great example of thinking outside the box.”
Gabriella won a $300 voucher at House of Knives, a dinner at Meredith’s restaurant valued at $200 and a subscription to Cuisine magazine. Her dish will also feature on the menu at an industry luncheon being held at AUT in the coming month.
Other dishes in the competition included a grilled pork and pear stack, a pork and pear burger with a pear, carrot and ginger slaw, a stuffed pork with pears, orange and cardamon and grilled pork chops with a pear and orange salad.
Head of Department for Culinary Arts, John Kelly said AUT University was delighted to partner up with USA Pears to stage the competition.
“It has given our students valuable lessons on how to cook with pears, to discover their versatility and their flavour. It was great to see our students using pears in such inspired ways.”
USA Pears Marketing Director – NZ, Lisa Cork said “this student competition has provided a fantastic platform for educating and engaging future chefs about the opportunities with pears on a summer menu. We are delighted with the results.”