It was a moment of pride and honour for the ACG Tertiary & Careers Group as one of its students brought home two gold medals from the ‘NZ Chef’s National Salon’ recently.
Ganesh Khedekar won the accolades at the country’s largest and most prestigious cookery and hospitality competition held from July 30 to August 2 at the ASB Showgrounds in Central Auckland.
The competition attracted contestants from all over the country, It was not a cake walk for cake decorator extraordinaire and ardent Peter Jackson fan Ganesh as he had to demonstrate his culinary skills complying with the contest norms.
He earned gold in the Petit Fours and Celebration Cake categories, wowing judges with his technical skills and creativity.
His Hobbit-themed petit fours were a shop-stopper. Served on hand-sculpted chocolate swords and flanked by a 5ft high showpiece (which included a four-armed crossbow, Bilbo’s sword, Gandalf’s pipe, the ring and a dragon’s spine), they were all intricately and painstakingly carved from chocolate.
“I used 20kgs of chocolate and spent around 40 hours creating the chocolate showpiece. It took me around two hours to assemble before the competition, which was a nerve-wracking experience!” said Ganesh, who is a cookery diploma tutor at NZMA, one of the ACG Tertiary & Careers Group training providers.
Ganesh’s award-winning petit fours included black garlic cheesecake, smoked chocolate duo feuilletine, opera slice and basil, mango and passionfruit mousse.
Magic & Illusion
“It’s all about illusion and creating a bit of magic. I like to bring a new dimension to what I make and always try to explore unusual new flavours. Black garlic and traditional smoking techniques are usually reserved for savoury dishes, however I thought that I would try bringing them into the dessert realm for this competition,” Ganesh said.
Ganesh also amazed judges with his gravity-defying Autumn-themed Celebration Cake.
A feat in artistry and engineering, his beetroot chocolate mud cake was cantilevered over a decadent red velvet cake, which hung delicately off the edge of a vanilla sponge.
Covered in fondant, an eye-catching autumnal scene was painted on the cake, which was also scattered with delicate sugar butterflies and topped with a hand-carved chocolate tree. He had won a gold medal in the same category in 2013 for his Terminator-inspired Mannequin Cake
But it was not just NZMA tutors who were in the limelight at the National Salon; a number of students also picked up a string of top awards.
Hospitality Management student Predrag Jovanovic was named ‘New Zealand Bartender of the Year,’ while Yang Qian (Joe) took out gold medals and Best in Show for both the Classic Cocktail and Innovative Cocktail competitions.
NZMA finished the competition with a total of 8 Gold Medals, 15 Silver and 10 Bronze, as well as six Best in Shows plus the ‘New Zealand Bartender of the Year’ title.
General Manager (Tertiary) of the ACG Tertiary & Careers Group Mark Worsop said that the results further cemented NZMA’s position as New Zealand’s premier hospitality and culinary arts training provider.
“An NZMA student won the Food & Beverage Service Person of the Year in 2014, and this year one of our students has won the ‘New Zealand Bartender of the Year.’ These great results reflect the investment we have made in our people, our resources and our products, but most importantly, they reflect the quality of our training and the calibre of our students and graduates,” Mr Worsop said.
Vanessa Trethewey is Communication Advisor at the ACG Tertiary & Careers Group, Sponsor of the ‘Business Excellence in International Business with India’ of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2015. Read another story, ‘NZMA named Training Establishment of the Year’ under Educationlink in this issue.
- Ganesh Khedekar prepares his unique dish
- The Gravity-defying cake
- The Hobbit Showpiece