Judges announced for Nestlé Toque d'Or

Gert Klotzke


An elite group of chefs have been drafted to judge this year’s top student culinary competition, including multiple-award winning and renowned chef Gert Klötzke from Sweden.

NZChefs National President and event organiser, Graham Hawkes, said Gert is quite possibly the most distinguished and prominent chef in the world.

 “During his career, he has notched up numerous accolades and achievements, appeared on a gastronomic stamp collection, been in two teams that have won the Culinary Olympics, written multiple cookbooks and culinary publications and is the current Chairperson of the WorldChefs Culinary Competition Committee. The length and breadth of his knowledge and experience is extraordinary,” Graham said.

 “It will be Gert’s first visit to New Zealand and securing him as a judge at this year’s Nestlé Toque d’Or competition is a real coup.”

 Now in its 26th year, Nestlé Toque d’Or is one of the most anticipated events of the year for the hospitality industry.

 “It’s a student culinary showdown that showcases a thrilling array of young culinary and restaurant service talent. Every year, the event becomes even more exciting, as the students seek to lift the bar from previous competitions and dazzle the judges with clever techniques and intriguing menus.

 “These students are studying and training in culinary arts institutes all over the country. They’re the best in their fields and just being allowed to compete is an honour. They are all incredibly passionate about the opportunity to face off against their peers in a live kitchen cook off,” Graham said.

 “For this year’s competitors, showcasing their skills in front of Gert Klötzke will be a truly memorable experience for all of them.”

 Each team consists of two culinary students and one restaurant service student. They must prepare and serve six covers of a three-course meal in just two-and-a-half-hours.

 “We will no doubt see some nerves on the day, however, the winning team will have a crowning achievement to add to a future list of accolades. Past winners have gone on to have incredible careers in the industry,” Graham said.

 This year’s judges are:

Darren Wright

Chef Owner at Chillingworth Rd

Gert Klötzke

Chair of the WorldChefs Culinary Committee

Murray Dick

WorldChefs Continental Director Pacific Region

Simon Gault

Chef Owner Sous Chef

Graham Brown

Executive Chef NZ Deer Industry

Jinu Abraham

Executive Chef Heritage Hotel

Nancye Pirini

Executive Chef Novotel Auckland Airport

Karen Doyle

Chef Tutor Le Cordon Bleu Sydney

Jie Min Aw

Head Pastry Chef at JetPark Hotel and Conference Centre

William Mordido

Assistant Head Chef Chikkos

Janine Quaid

Renard Group

John Snowball

Tutor Cook Islands Tertiary Institute

Kerry Tyack


Caroline Shaw

Tutor Cook Islands Tertiary Institute

 They will assess competitors against WorldChefs judging criteria which covers a range of areas including: timing, taste, food preparation skills, service, presentation and hygiene.

 “There’s a lot of pressure on these young students to get it right within the allotted time.”

 They will be cooking and serving dishes that they have kept secret and perfected in the months leading up to the event.

 “When the competition heats up they’ll be wanting to make sure every detail is spot on, as the judges will be critiquing their every move,” Graham said.

 Post event feedback from the judges is also a large part of the Nestlé Toque d’Or competition.

 “It’s not often that students receive critiques from such a highly experienced and acclaimed panel of chefs.”

 The 26th Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on 29 July 2016 at the Auckland Showgrounds. An awards dinner will be held later in the evening where the winning team will be announced.

 Sponsors of this year’s event are: Nestlé Professional, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, vegetables.co.nz, Akaroa Salmon, House of Knives and Moffat.