In April 2015, the New Zealand Trade Commissioner held the annual Taste of New Zealand competition here at the International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai, where chefs from the leading UAE Hotels & Restaurants, had to cook 5 canapés from a mystery box filled with New Zealand products.
Following the competition there was a lot of NZ products left over which the Trade Commissioner gifted to the school as a warm thank you gesture for hosting the event.
Chef Daniel Hiltbrunner came up with an idea to put the ingredients to good use by organizing the ICCA Taste of New Zealand black box competition for the student chefs, since many of the students expressed interest in competing amongst themselves, as just a few days before 2 students had won the 1st place in the Australia Unlimited Culinary Cook – Off “The Innovation Game” 2015 , the annual black box competition held for the culinary & hospitality schools in the UAE.
The students had 1.5 hours to come up with a dish, either and entrée, main or dessert using the remaining ingredients and showcase their best culinary skills using the New Zealand products. Some of the products were mussels, clams, lamb rack, venison loins and pastry items as well as NZ butter. The future young chefs were judged on their work skills, product utilization, hygiene, presentation and taste together with recipe writing which was also one of the judging criteria.
At their graduation day the winners of the competition were formally announced and the top 3 students received a Chef Knife sponsored by Chef Daniel Hiltbrunner. The winners of the competition were were Chef Darin, followed by Nafeesa 2nd place and the 3rd place went to Michelle, a ladies trifecta!
All the recipes were collected along with photos of the dishes and put together as an ICCA Taste of New Zealand cookbook for the students with a copy of the same going also to the NZ Trade Commissioner as a thank you for all the great products the students were able to use.