An NZMA hospitality student has just won New Zealand Training Food and Beverage Service Person of the Year at the prestigious New Zealand Culinary Fare.
Xiangying Zan (Brandy) battled it out against the best from around the country, in four different competitions – barista, classic cocktails, wine and beverage service and table setting. The 22 year old from Shanxi, China, was the only contestant to win a medal in each of the four categories.
“This is the first hospitality competition I’ve ever entered and I was so nervous. But I could hear my tutors and classmates cheering me on from the side-lines and that gave me confidence,” said Brandy, who is studying towards her Diploma in Applied Hospitality Management Level 6 and working as a casual food and beverage attendant at Eden Park.
“I was so thrilled to win, and I think having this award will be good for my future – it will look great on my CV!”
The annual Fare is the biggest culinary competition of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and attracts more than 1000 competitors and several thousand spectators every year. This year, for the first time, it was held at the Vodafone Events Centre, from August 17 – 19.
In the weeks leading up to the event Brandy juggled her regular NZMA studies with her competition training, spending 12 hours a day, seven days a week, at NZMA’s state of the art hospitality and cookery training facility in Sylvia Park.
“It was very tiring, but it was well worth the effort. Regardless of how I did in the competition, the training was always the most important aspect for me. It gave me an opportunity to fine-tune my techniques and I learnt a huge amount.”
Deputy Campus Principal Nishat Elavia said he wasn’t surprised Brandy beat others from around the country to the top accolade.
“She put in a huge amount of work in the weeks and weekends leading up to the Fare and she has the right attitude – she strives for excellence in everything she does. The award demonstrates the skill set Brandy has acquired at NZMA during her studies and will give her a great start in the industry. Essentially she now has an ‘industry seal of excellence’, as most of the judges are from within industry and have proudly endorsed her as the worthy recipient of this year’s top New Zealand Training Food and Beverage Service Person.”
But Brandy wasn’t the only student at NZMA to wow this year’s judges. Twenty-seven year old Paul Wyber took out ‘Best in Show’ in the Classic Cocktails Open category, competing not just against other hospitality students, but also some of the best professional bartenders from around the country.
“I was meant to be in the training category, but accidentally got bumped up to the open competition, so I was up against lots of industry professionals. This was my first ever competition, and I am still only a Level 4 student, so I just couldn’t believe I took out the top prize,” said Paul.
“The win has definitely inspired me and given me a big confidence boost – I’m aiming for Barman of the Year at next year’s Culinary Fare!”
Several students from across NZMA’s three campuses (Sylvia Park, Auckland South and Waikato) competed in this year’s Fare, bringing home 48 medals between them.
Nishat was delighted.
“Our students have done us proud with an extension of their training by scoring such an impressive medal haul at a national level. These results reiterate NZMA’s consistent status as a Category 1 training provider, NZQA’s highest stamp of approval.”