Darcy McMaster and Nataya Ritchie present their finished dishes
By Rich Evans
Everyone loves a good cooking showdown thanks to the popularity of shows such as Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules. This week, Portland Central School played host to its very own cooking competition, with the Zone Skill Off for two World Skills Commercial Cookery students, Darcy McMaster from Red Bend Catholic College in Forbes and Nataya Ritchie from Five Islands College in Wollongong. Portland was chosen as one of the local schools to host the cooking part of the event as the facilities in the Food Tech department are state of the art. Carolyn Murphy, the Industry Links Officer for the DEC in our region, commented on how accommodating, welcoming and enthusiastic Portland Central School was in supporting the competition as best as they could. Carolyn mentioned that the event wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did without the assistance of Principal Murray Borham and Food Tech teacher Gai Hine. The menu for Thursday’s challenge was an entree of Caesar Salad, a main of Chicken Schnitzel with turned potatoes and a tomato concasse, with a dessert of poached pear with creme anglaise. Both girls where supplied the menu in advance so they could prepare and they be cooked the same menu for judging on Thursday. Thursday was the Zone Skill Off, which means that Nataya Ritchie, who won by 3 marks, will now be included in 1 of 3 NSW teams of varying subjects like Construction and Metalwork & Engineering to travel to Perth for the National Finals. Judging the girls were Karen Pickering, Senior Pathways Officer with the Department of Education and Robin Marshall, Hospitality Teacher from Orange. Karen said the main areas for judging were Safety & Hygiene, time management and ability to plan. She added that the food skills and presentation of the dish also made up a large percentage of the mark. As for the girls competing, they both have very bright futures. Darcy actually hails from Lightning Ridge and boards at Red Bend Catholic College, which she loves. After school, she is hoping to go to University or even TAFE to study Food & Hospitality. She would like to eventually get a job as a chef as she likes hands-on work best. Nataya currently works part time at Caveau a French restaurant in Wollongong and the only hatted restaurant in the area. After school, she wants to go to University to study languages such as Mandarin and to do a business studies course, however, she is still undecided as she’s also considering a fashion course, and likes creative pursuits.