Skip to content

Culinary Fare perfect appetiser to give students a taste for the hospitality industry

Wintec’s 19th annual Waikato Culinary Fare, in partnership with Cater Plus, had hundreds of young foodies fired up getting a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional kitchen.

Wintec’s Centre for Trades, Hospitality Team Manager Josh Kanara-Bailey with Wintec student and fare judge Lara Cole.

Students from all around the motu competed for the highest scores to achieve gold, silver, or bronze awards for their entries. The fare featured both live food and static events, where the students pre-prepare the entry, including the latest addition to the fare’s lineup, the new celebration cake category, which saw some intense competition.

Natalie Carter, a 16-year-old Waikato Diocesan School for Girls student who was competing for her third year said the competition was an opportunity to showcase her skills in a professional environment with judges, something she didn’t know she would love until she did it.

“I do Food Technology at school and my teacher came to me and said she thought I should have a go. I like how professional it is. You learn what it’s like to be in a real kitchen with all the proper equipment, the time pressure and the judges watching your every move, it’s intense and fun. 

“I’d never thought about getting into this as a possible future career until coming to the fare, and now I’m thinking about it as it’s really inspiring. Since I started coming it’s grown heaps and I would definitely encourage other students to get involved,” Natalie said.

The fare sees intermediate, and high school students represented from as far away as Taumarunui, Whakatane and Massey High in Auckland. It took place over two days this year, on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 July.

Wintec’s Centre for Trades, Hospitality Team Manager Josh Kanara-Bailey said the fare had fantastic support from industry and graduates with judging this year, which was huge considering it was the biggest year on record. 

“The judging space has become manageable this year thanks to our graduates who have come back to help. We’ve really had the resources and the people to help this year, even though the fare is bigger which has been primo.”

There were over 500 entrees into the fare this year and Kanara-Bailey said the number of static entrees was especially huge. 

“The cupcakes are unreal, there’s more than 200 plates out there. We’ve had graduates from our bakery programme come in to give their time to judge which has been really successful, especially with the new celebration cake category being a feature this year.”

Karana-Bailey said this year was also special as they had Massey High School students come down from Auckland and stay at Wintec’s Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae.

“The pōwhiri for Massey being welcomed onto the marae was awesome. It’s great to have to support from the Māori Achievement team,” he said.

Kanara-Bailey said he wished he could thank everyone who had been involved in making the fare a success.

“It’s just epic to see all the schools show up and put themselves out there. The students learn so much and have a good time doing it. 

“It takes a lot of people to put it together for the students. I want to say a special thanks to Wintec kaimahi Sue DeLacy who is retiring this year. She has been involved in every Culinary Fare since conception, 19 years ago. We are happy for her, but very sad to see her go. She will be very missed.”

Lara Cole, 19, is completing her Wintec New Zealand Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) (Level 5) this year. After placing silver in the teams’ live kitchens event last year, despite ending up competing alone after her teammate pulled out at the last minute. Lara was asked to come back and be a judge. 

“I’m loving trying the dishes this year, they are inspiring me to try cooking new things myself. The incredible thing is these dishes are created by kids, they’re high schoolers and they look and taste incredible. 

“I get goose bumps when I think about how I started coming to the Culinary Fare as a kid and now I’m back as a judge in my last year of study. I was in middle school when I first entered, and it led me to Waikato Trades Academy and essentially here (Wintec) to do my full-time study.” 

Lara said she would encourage any kid who is interested in cooking to get involved in the fare. 

“It’s hard, but that’s the beauty of it. If it was easy, you would get bored. There is always something new to learn and something to inspire you,” she said.

Michelle Knott, Teacher in Charge of Food Technology at the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls said they had over 40 students enter this year.

“We’ve decided to bring the Culinary Fare in as part of our academic programme at Dio, we didn’t make it compulsory, but we gave those who wanted to do it 10 weeks of prep time so they could build knowledge and learn techniques.

“We’ve found a lot of students are being influenced by their culture and their culture’s connection with food and that sharing and connecting has been really special this year,” she said.

Wintec is part of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology Learn More

Learn with purpose

Explore Te Pūkenga

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Copyright © 2022 Wintec