They are master chefs in the making. Natasha Pheng and Farzana Rahimi of Botany Downs Secondary College (BDSC) were thrilled to win a cheque of $1000 at the Eye on Nature Cooking Competition, hosted by the Manukau Beautification Trust at the foyer of the Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, recently.
The five high schools competing for the prize money were Botany Downs Secondary College. Saint Kentigern College, Pakuranga College, Alfriston and Aorere Colleges.
The dish that won the judges’ approval and top marks was seared venison and tartare with potato and mushroom croquettes, butternut puree, mushroom soil and kale.
Head of food technology at BDSC, Angie Thomson says that the brief was to prepare a dish that relates to the New Zealand restaurant industry.
“It is a dish that is inspired by recipes seen on/in some of New Zealand’s most famous restaurants menus and cook books (Cluprit, Cibo and French Café to name a few). The dish is also made up of locally sourced ingredients which we felt represents many of the classic Kiwi staples,” she says.
Year 12 students Natasha and Farzana say that the dish is a fine example of modern New Zealand cuisine that celebrates the beautiful ingredients New Zealand has to offer.
“We used the mandatory components of the competition (venison, potatoes and mushroom) as a starting point and looked for other ingredients and cookery techniques that we thought would complement these.
“With the help of our teacher – who is extremely passionate about fine food, we trawled through websites and cook books to be inspired by what New Zealand chefs are serving in their restaurants,” they say.