On Monday 6 June Ho Chi Minh City saw the very best of Vietnamese and New Zealand cuisine, culinary skills and collaboration as a selection of top students from both countries brought their world-class fusion menus to life at a prestigious Gala Dinner.
The three teams, each consisting of two Vietnamese and two New Zealand students, showcased their outstanding culinary skills on stage in front of over 170 guests including the New Zealand Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment the Hon Steven Joyce.
NZMA Level 5 Professional Cookery student Tuaine Taringa and her team achieved the highest single score for a dish and narrowly missed out on first place.
Her team scored 77 out of 100 points, making them second in the competition and only two points behind the winning team for their spicy baked mussels entrée, lamb rack with coconut and cauliflower puree, ginger rice and peanut pesto and coconut dacquoise dessert. The team got the highest single score for a dish with judge Brendon Partridge, Executive Chef at JW Marriott in Hanoi scoring their dessert a massive 9.9. out of 10. Brendon commented that the dessert was of restaurant quality.
The trip has been the experience of a lifetime for mother of three Tuaine, and a big confidence boost, as the dessert was her creation.
“This experience has been so amazing, I didn’t know where I wanted to take my cooking before this competition but now I know that I definitely want to be a pastry chef. I now have the confidence to take my cooking to the next level,” she said.
“This is the first time I have left Australasia. This experience has opened my mind to different flavours and styles of cooking. It is now my ambition to continue learning from other cultures and cuisines. I would love to go to India and learn more about the local people in the villages and how they prepare their food, the spices and flavours they use. I feel like I am just at the beginning of my journey and nothing can stop me. I would encourage other students from the Cook Islands thinking about studying or working overseas to go for it.”
Tuiane’s teammates were Ryan Prouting from Ara Institute of Canterbury, Trinh Xuan Hoang from Viet Giao Tourism School and Nguyen Thuy Tra Giang from VATEL International Business School Hotel & Tourism Management.
The Gala Dinner was the culmination of the New Zealand – Viet Nam Culinary Collaboration and two months’ of hard work for the three teams. The students were tasked in April with a real-life brief – to design a three-course menu that would showcase the best of New Zealand and Vietnamese cuisine, culinary techniques and local ingredients from each country.
The students initially worked together online to develop their menus under the guidance of culinary mentor and 2013 MasterChef New Zealand finalist, Vanessa Baxter, before meeting face-to-face in Ho Chi Minh City on 3 June.
The New Zealand – Viet Nam Culinary Collaboration was an initiative designed under the New Zealand – Viet Nam Strategic Plan on Education which was signed during Minister Joyce’s most recent visit to Viet Nam in November 2015. The plan was designed to deepen the level of engagement between the two countries and enrich students’ learning. The signing was also witnessed by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Viet Nam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan.
“The New Zealand – Viet Nam Culinary Collaboration is yet another example of the growing education relationship between our two countries. While it has been fantastic to see the outstanding teamwork between the students, tonight’s Gala Dinner was also an opportunity to showcase New Zealand institutions’ vocational expertise and our education system’s world-renowned practical application of skills which prepare students for the working world,” said Grant McPherson, Chief Executive, Education New Zealand.
“I am certain that over the last two months the students have learnt a huge amount about each other’s cultures and developed knowledge that can be applied to our bilateral relationship in future years.
“With 60 percent of Viet Nam’s population under 30 years old the Viet Nam government is very focused on improving education standards so that students can play a central role in Viet Nam’s development. New Zealand’s high quality education system and expertise in vocational training make us well placed to deliver more joint education initiatives focused on building skills for the Vietnamese workforce and attracting more Vietnamese students to study in New Zealand,” added Mr McPherson.
Minister Joyce travelled to Viet Nam on Air New Zealand’s inaugural direct flight from Auckland to Ho Chi Minh City on 4 June. This new service is set to further build bilateral links between New Zealand and Viet Nam, while also providing an additional benefit to prospective Vietnamese students looking at New Zealand as an international study destination.