Auckland culinary student earns praise in Vietnam-NZ cooking contest

Auckland culinary student earns praise in Vietnam-NZ cooking contest

Tuesday 14 June

A Kiwi cooking student's dessert has earned top marks from judges at a prestigious gala dinner in Vietnam.

Tuaine Taringa, an NZMA culinary arts student, was selected to travel to Ho Chi Minh City to take part in an inaugural cooking competition on June 6.

Three teams, each consisting of two Vietnamese and two New Zealand students, were tasked in April with a brief to design a three-course meal that would showcase the best of New Zealand and Vietnamese cuisine.

The team organised their menu online under the guidance of MasterChef New Zealand 2013 finalist Vanessa Baxter before meeting in Vietnam just days before the competition.

"It was quite difficult to come up with the recipes that we could use," Taringa says.

"There was a bit of language barrier there between our team because one team-mate couldn't speak English."

"But on the night of the competition he blew me away…he communicated through the food."

The students showcased their culinary skills on stage in front of more than 170 guests, including the Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce.

Taringa's team came second in the competition for their baked mussels entree and lamb rack with coconut and cauliflower puree and ginger rice.

However it was their coconut dacquoise dessert that earned them high praise after the judges gave it the score of 9.9 out of 10.

Taringa was the brains behind the dessert having spent weeks learning and practising how to create it.

The mother-of-three of St Johns says the feedback was a confidence boost.

"This competition has made me want to be a pastry chef and learn more about the industry."

The New Zealand-Vietnam Culinary Collaboration was created in 2015 as part of a strategic education plan between the two countries.