Head Judge Mark Wylie

Mark Wylie


Culinary competitions open doors to your future.


Whether you are a school student at entry level into the hospitality industry, in tertiary training or even a more accomplished chef, being seen and talked about as you compete in culinary competitions will have an impact on your future career.

Mark Wylie, General Manager, Cater Plus Services Ltd and Chief Judge for three of New Zealand’s most prestigious culinary competitions: National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge, the New Zealand Training Team and The Vegetarian Dish Challenge, says the hospitality industry functions predominately through word of mouth when it comes to recruiting staff. “If you look at the people judging these competitions – two of whom have WACS (World Association of Chefs Societies) judging criteria – they are the best in their game right now, such as Ben Bayley, Jeremy Schmid, Des Harris, Michael Van de Elzen and so on. They agree to be judges because they want to see the entrants succeed in the industry. In previous years I’ve seen this result in people being offered amazing opportunities for industry experience and even jobs. Look at the young guy from Papakura High School who was invited by Gordon Ramsay to visit him at his London restaurant. Without competing he may never have been noticed.”

Whichever competition you consider entering, measuring yourself against your peers will help grow your skills level and confidence. At the same time you will be forming valuable networking contacts even with your judges. Who know what doors they may open for you?