Student chef brings back medals to NZ

21 Sep, 2023
Student chef brings back medals to NZ

Student chef Lilly Boles is inspired to keep challenging herself after taking out three bronze medals at the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award.

At 19-years-old, the AUT culinary arts student was one of the youngest competitors at the event’s Grand Finals in Sydney this month - described as “the ultimate Australasian competition for young chefs”.

“This competition has definitely inspired me to keep pushing and getting involved. The opportunities, experiences, and other chefs you meet along the way is an invaluable experience,” she says.

“The trip wasn’t just about competing. There was a whole itinerary full of cool restaurants and activities. Each night we went to a new restaurant with the judges and the other competitors. We got really close with each other and definitely made life-long friends.”

This was the first time Lilly had entered the event, after winning its North Island regional heats earlier this year.

“Preparing was a lot of hard work, with multiple full-day trainings a week leading up to the competition. Lots of pressure and hard work goes into the dishes and getting to present them in the Grand Finals was so rewarding,” she says.

“Competing in a national competition for the first time was so intimidating; a new kitchen surrounded by new people and many spectators was definitely a challenge but such an amazing experience.”

Lecturer Geoff Scott says one of the great things about studying for a career in hospitality and tourism at AUT is the great opportunities and experiences that can be had through travel.

The Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award is one of them, he says, and “beyond a doubt the ultimate Australasian competition for young chefs”.

“Lilly was one of the youngest competitors on the stage and it was her first time to the scene too. She did a brilliant job producing some delicious and superbly presented food - all within the tight three and a half hour time limit.

“We are very proud of her efforts in representing AUT, the North Island and the New Zealand Chefs Association.”

Lilly was up against 11 other young top chefs from across Australia and New Zealand for the Grand Finals live cook off.

Her menu comprised a warm vichyssoise of leek and potato, wattle seed tofu and chilli. Her mains was sous-vide Murray cod, turned potatoes, beetroot, asparagus and vermouth beurre blanc. Lilly’s dessert was a lemon thyme and honey panna cotta, raspberries, shortbread crumbs and Nestlé Docello Snowcap cremeux.

The competitors were judged by expert judges who assessed professional practices, presentation and the all-important taste factor.

NZChefs judge Darren Wright says being part of the Golden Chef’s Hat competition gives the next generation of chefs the opportunity to put themselves to the test, improve their cooking skills and connect with like-minded chefs as well as the broader industry.

Lilly delivered some stand out dishes on the day while under immense pressure, he says.

The overall winner of the event was Melbourne chef Jimmy Han.

Lilly says she is working to challenge herself and pick up every opportunity she can while training to become a chef.

“I have a competition coming up in November where I get to represent New Zealand in China, and I can’t wait.”

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