A UCOL lecturer and graduate duo have taken out a gold award in the recent New Zealand Hospitality Championships in Auckland. Chef Training Lecturer Mark Smith and his former student Zach Meads won gold in the Chatham Islands on a Plate category, which saw them prepare an entrée and main course out of supplied ingredients from the Chatham Islands and sponsor Fresh As.

For their entrée, Smith and Meads made crayfish sous vide in butter and garlic, served with a kiwi paua fritter, fennel citrus salad and Crayfish reduction. Their main course was seared blue cod with mushroom and pine nut risotto, cray, cod and coconut croquette, pumpkin purée, rocket, and lime beurre Blanc.

For Smith, it was his first competition in 12 years. He says he wanted to take part in the Chatham Islands on a Plate category because it was a new and unique category which involved ingredients he enjoyed working with.

“I liked the idea of this competition. I catch a lot of crayfish and blue cod, so I had some ideas for what we could do with those. I believe competitions are very good for students, and I really enjoyed putting myself back into the competition environment and challenging myself against other top chefs in the country.”

Smith enjoyed the opportunity to compete alongside Meads after he had taught him and coached him in competitions for the three years Meads studied at UCOL.

“It was great to work with Zach. I have a lot of confidence in him and we work well as a team. I was proud that we were able to pull off the win. Zach is an excellent young chef who is going places, and he has been a great role model for many students and UCOL.”

Meads, who won Commis Chef of the year at last year’s New Zealand Hospitality Championships, is now a Commis Chef at The Sugar Club at Sky City.