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Local chefs in champion cook-off

By Leanne Coleman

Darwin Convention centre's Andrea Wicking, junior chef Maria Lourdes Hoad, team captain Seljone Selle and Arafura Catering Equipment Roger Pearson at the presentation of trophies for the Grand Champion Territory Culinary Challenge 2013 Darwin Convention centre's Andrea Wicking, junior chef Maria Lourdes Hoad, team captain Seljone Selle and Arafura Catering Equipment Roger Pearson at the presentation of trophies for the Grand Champion Territory Culinary Challenge 2013

The Territory’s best senior and junior chefs have been crowned Grand Champions in the 2013 Territory Culinary Challenge at Charles Darwin University’s Palmerston campus.

Rydges Darwin Airport Hotel Essence Restaurant Seljine Selle and Maria Hoad won the overall event as well as best entree and dessert, taking home the Grand Champion establishment trophy and $2000. Best main course went to Tommy Jong and Courtney Cameron from the Darwin Sailing Club.

The competition involved teams from well-known local establishments from across the Top End using unique NT produce sourced from local suppliers to create a memorable dining experience.

Commercial cookery lecturer Jason Wilkes said the night was a great success with 86 guests enjoying some wild and wonderful creations made from local ingredients that do not usually appear on their everyday menus.

“The competition was incredibly close with only 1.5 points separating first and second places,” Mr Wilkes said.

“The skill levels of the chefs involved was outstanding with the winning team’s entrée of sesame crusted crocodile boudin and prawn charmoula, and desert of Humpty Doo petit gateaux with almond pistachio nougat and raspberry faux sorbet performing at an extremely high standard.”

Each team comprised a senior and junior chef producing 12 portions of a three-course menu of their design using local produce including crocodile, barramundi and honey within the six-hour timeframe.

Third year commercial cookery student Courtney Cameron, who was part of the winning main meal team with its Japanese-inspired herb crusted Humpty Doo barramundi, said the competition was a great way to build her skills and career.

“The competition not only helped me build experience, but gave me an opportunity to work with highly skilled professionals and have my food checked by qualified industry judges,” Courtney said. “It is a great way to learn and improve.”

The 2013 Territory Culinary Challenge is sponsored by CDU, Arafura Catering Equipment, Crocodylus Park, Humpty Doo Barramundi, Humpty Doo Apiaries, Australian Culinary Federation NT and Simon George and Sons.