Competition highlights future stars of the culinary world.

Competition highlights future stars of the culinary world.

Rune Nunn, Level 4 Cookery student, entered the 2024 Te Pūkenga Festival Chef Competition held at the Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival recently.
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From left: Winner of under 18 competition, Tessa Zilwood, Zennon Wijlens, Darcy Thomson, Rune Nunn, Chris Fortune, Jordan Robertson and Luke Davis.

“Chris [Fortune, Cookery tutor] told me about it and I decided to give it a go,” says Rune, while eating one of the pumpkin and feta tarts he and his classmates produced for an assessment earlier in the day.   

“I went into the competition a bit too confident and didn’t practice it properly, so it wasn’t refined enough, but it was a good dish,” he says. 

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Rune Nunn with his competition creation

Rune came second equal in the Under 18 Division of the competition with his steamed kawakawa and lime salmon with pickled pikopiko and boil-up style braised cabbage. 

This was his first cooking competition, and he enjoyed the experience immensely. 

“I’ll be doing another, sponsored by Nestlé, later in the year,” Rune says. 

The Festival Chef competition is an opportunity for anyone interested in cooking to showcase their skills and receive guidance and encouragement from NMIT Cookery tutor, Chris Fortune, and a celebrity judge.  

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Chris Fortune and Zennon Wijlens were the Festival Chef competition judges for 2024.

This year, Cuisine Chef of the Year, Chef Zennon Wijlens, was at the festival, judging the competition and holding workshops.  

“The festival is such a great opportunity to learn from people like Zennon,” Chris says. 

“Chef Zennon was very impressed with all the competitors and their embrace of Asian and exotic flavours and textures, matched with local kai moana,” Chris says.  

“Kiwi cooks and chefs are not afraid to try different techniques and combinations to create our very own ‘top of the South Island’ cuisine,” he says.  

With over 1200 people visiting the culinary tent during the festival, the NMIT team was supported by specialised food and beverage hospitality junior academic staff member Cherie Baker, level 4 cookery student Zoe Jope and level 3 hospitality student, Amber Mitchem.

They ensured that behind the scenes, everything ran like clockwork. Mr. Fortune has organised the Culinary Marqee for over 21 years and this was another successful event thanks to his expertise. 

“For the second year running the 2024 NMIT Te Pūkenga Festival Chef highlighted the future stars of the culinary world," Chris says.

Check out the Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival(external link) to learn more.

For more information about our cookery and hospitality programmes, visit the NMIT website(external link) 

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