The event, now in its third year, includes competitions for cooking, table setting, coffee and cocktail making, and housekeeping to test the skills of those in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Cook Islands Chefs Association president Sam Timoko, who organised the event, said he has had a lot of positive feedback from those who attended and he hopes more industry members join in next time around.
“The turnout was great, it’s gotten better year on year. Next time I’d like to see more industry participation – it would be good to get more resorts on board.”
The event, which was held at the Hospitality and Tourism Training Centre (HTTC) kicked off with cooking demonstrations on Friday, followed by the competitions on Saturday. The range of competitions included ‘static classes’, where competitors made their entry at home and presented it for judging, as well as competitions where industry members make their entries from scratch.
The youngest competitor was 9-year-old Scott Karaiti from Avarua School, who won five medals – first place for his entries of banana muffins and a cold dessert, second place for his iced chocolate cake and celebration cake, and third place for his ika mata entry.
Timoko said a highlight of the day was the magic box competition, which saw competitors given a box of ingredients that they then used to create a dish.
“We had a good range of chefs that entered. That’s the one to take out, because it really gets you thinking on your feet.”
Timoko’s personal favourite was the omelette competition, because it got members of the public involved.
“You don’t need to be a professional to make an omelette. I like that, because it shows you don’t have to be a top chef to take part.”
The ‘cocktail master’ competition, which saw contestants make two glasses of a signature cocktail, showcased the use of local and locally grown products. The winner was Jon George, for his drink ‘Mojito’s Passion’, which included fresh passion fruit, lime, and mint.
General manager of the Bond Liquor Store Trish Barton, who judged the cocktail competition with Donye Numa, said his entry showed “Cook Islands flair”.
“He really stood out as someone who loved his job, and he made a cocktail that was just lovely.”
Barton said participants in the competition, which was sponsored by Bond Liquor Store, were also judged on their personality, manner, and overall knowledge of the cocktail making process.
The Bond Liquor Store provided the alcohol and mixers that were used in the competition.
“It’s the business we’re in, and we want to support the industry that supports us,” said Barton.
Chef’s Association member Karlene Taokia, who helped judge the ‘magic box’ competition, said the event was a great success.
“Everyone’s put in lots of hard work to pull it all together. If we can provide a better working environment and raise the standards in the industry, all the better.”