Winika Hutchins and Alok Vasanth train for Cocinando con Trufa.

Winika Hutchins always dreamed of becoming a top chef. This year, she will realise her dream, representing New Zealand in the world truffles championships—Cocinando con Trufa.

The 25-year-old Ignite Colleges student began working in the kitchen at 15 years of age, as a dishwasher at her local café, Poco Loco in Pukekohe. Nine years later, she is preparing to compete in her first competition, also, prepare herself to leave the country for the first time.

“It’s fair to say I am a mix of extremely excited and extremely nervous”, said Hutchins. “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but the journey of coming up with a competition dish has been amazing, and I’m really looking forward to meeting other chefs from around the world and learning from them.”

Hutchins will team up with The Tasting Shed’s Alok Vasanth, where the pair will compete against countries from around the world. Cocinando con Trufa will take place in Soria, in early December.

“Each team is made up of a professional chef and a culinary student or recent cookery graduate,” continued Hutchins. “I don’t want to give away too much about our dish, but it will feature truffle-infused New Zealand lamb and also include a leek and truffle tart.”

If the pair are lucky enough to get through to the final round, they will face the mystery box challenge.

Next year, Hutchins will be spending three months interning at a Michelin starred restaurant in Spain, as a part of Ignite Colleges International Diploma in Culinary Arts Level 5.