Calling all Developing Chefs

Have you got what it takes to compete at a national level?

The Lee Kum Kee NZ Developing Chefs Challenge is back, and organisers are looking for aspiring young chefs to compete for a $3,000 cash prize and the title of this year’s developing chef.

Would-be contestants have until 31 July to get their entries in. Open to all chefs aged 40 years and under and who are either working or training in New Zealand, entrants must first submit a Chinese or Chinese-inspired dish and video online, using a minimum of three Lee Kum Kee sauces or condiments.

Supported by Gilmours and Trents, five contenders will then be selected to compete in the national challenge held at Maincourse, Auckland on 29 August. While there, finalists will have 90 minutes to make and present their dish to a judging panel including Paulie Hooton former head chef at the Auckland Seafood School and Oyster Inn on Waiheke Island, Mark Dronjak, a seasoned chef with over 40 years’ experience and a wealth of published work, and a soon-to-be-announced guest judge.

Held earlier this year due to Covid delays, the 2021 challenge saw 24-year-old Jacob Aomarere-Poole, a sous chef from Amayjen take top place with his dish of sweet and sour fish stuffed tofu, and daikon soy salad.

Looking forward to seeing who the 2022 winner will be, Eugene Rush, Marketing Manager at Acton International Marketing, noted that the Lee Kum Kee challenge is an opportunity for career development and for chefs to really elevate their Chinese culinary artistry.

“For finalists, it’s an opportunity to compete and grow and to represent their hometown and their place of employment or training at a national level. While the winner goes home with a $3,000 cash prize and the title of Lee Kum Kee 2022 developing chef.”

Each contestant also walks away with more than $200 worth of Lee Kum Kee products.

The New Zealand competition is part of a global initiative by Lee Kum Kee to help nurture Chinese culinary talent.

Chefs have until midnight 31 July 2022 to make their submissions. More information, the entry form and terms and conditions can be found at

Renowned for inventing oyster sauce more than 130 years ago, Lee Kum Kee is one of the world’s most recognisable makers of authentic Chinese sauces and condiments and has been popular in both commercial and home kitchens across New Zealand since the 1970s. Acton International Marketing is Lee Kum Kee’s sole distributor in New Zealand.

The 2022 Lee Kum Kee NZ Developing Chefs Challenge is proudly supported by Gilmours and Trents.