Culinary Competition Ignited by Hospitality Grant

Amber Heaton, Jasbir Kaur , and Fed Wong at the World Tapas Competition in Spain

After a 2-year hiatus, Ignite Colleges was proud to announce that the Australasian Tapas Competition was back for 2022 where chefs from New Zealand and Australia battled it out for the top prize.

Helping the competition grow, has been Ignite’s relationship with Hospitality Training Trust, who this year awarded the Australasian Tapas Competition $4,000.

Associate Vice President – Strategic Partner at Ignite Colleges, Kaur is also an award-winning chef and president of the Auckland branch of the NZChefs Association. And if that’s not enough, she’s made it her lifework to promote New Zealand cuisine on the world stage and bring international flavour Down Under.

Chef Kaur competed in the 2017 world Tapas competition in Valladolid, has been a judge at the 2018 Spanish World Tapas competition, and has been running the Australasian competition since 2018.

“The first competition we did we had 14 participants, the second one we had 45!”

When she discovered that HTT gave grants for competitions, she jumped on the chance for them to help.

“The application process is very simple, with applicants guided the whole way.”

With the help of HTT, the competition has grown, and for 2022, Ignite was able to invite world renowned chef Sanjeev Kapoor from India to be the Head Judge. Kaur hopes to invite more guests for future competitions.

From left, E-Spain's Angel Moreton, Fred Wong, Amber Heaton, Chef Jasbir Kaur, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

The Tapas competition is unique as competitors have only a mouthful or two to express their culinary talents. It also provides a great stage for experimentation and innovation, not to mention the incredible prize: the winner gets to represent Australasia at the 6th World Tapas competition in an all-expenses paid trip in Spain. From there, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of the International Tapas Competition win 10,000 Euros, 5,000 Euros and 3000 Euros respectively.

This year’s competition was won by Gold Coast chef Amber Heaton for her spectacular salmon ceviche with pickled cucumber, horseradish mouse, yuzu gel and a lemon myrtle sable.

This year, however, for the first time in the competition’s history, two competitors have been picked to represent Australasia at the world champs, with Auckland’s Fred Wong (Head Chef at Poni) also wowing judges with his innovative twist on the humble Southland cheese roll.  Uniquely named an ‘Ash Dog’, Fred’s showstopping entry was a bite-sized sensation of prawns, scallops, onion ash and black garlic, earning him a close second.

The wonderful chefs from down under did an amazing job at the world competition. New Zealand's Fred Wong won second with an award of 5000 Euros, while Australia's Amber Heaton won the title of Futuristic Tapas.

“Global cooking competitions are breaking down boundaries, enabling chefs to build their reputations internationally and gain exposure to different cuisines and cooking styles,” noted Kaur.

“HTT have been so supportive in helping this competition to flourish, its wonderful to acknowledge the work they do.”

You can check out all the action from Spain in the video below.