National Secondary Schools Challenge and the New Zealand Culinary Journey


The National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge is an annual event run by the Culinary Arts Development Trust. The competition is designed to promote the next generation of culinary talent, provide career pathways for students and to foster relationships between secondary schools and the hospitality industry.

Each team entering the regional event is competing for a place at the National Final where each of the eight regional winning teams will travel to Auckland to participate in a live cook off and experience the New Zealand Culinary Journey the following day. Follow us on facebook to hear more about NSSCC 2022.

The process:

  • The school enters a regional event by 8th July 2022.
  • The eight winning regional school teams will be announced on 25 July 2022. Regional School winners each receive a prize package worth over $1,000.
  • Regional school finalists compete in NSSCC Grand Final 7th September.
  • Winner announced at NSSCC Awards dinner 7th September.Prizes worth over $12,000 will be awarded.

Regional Event Criteria

Click here for entry information.

A team of two (2) students is to develop and produce an Entrée that can be made in 45 minutes.

Two (2) identical portions of this dish must be made and presented in the time frame.

The dish MUST include New Zealand grown beetroot as the hero of the dish. Other fresh or frozen New Zealand grown vegetables may be included.

Closing date for regional entries is: Friday 8th July 2022

This is the last day of Term 2.

Follow and like the National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge [NSSCC] on facebook and instagram.

Winners of each region will be announced on: Monday 25th July

This is the first day of Term 3.

Regional winners prize package

The eight (8) regional winning schools will each receive:

  • A $500 credit from Bidfood to assist with the purchase of ingredients for training.
  • Six Waitoa chickens to use in training for the National Final.
  • A $300 Restaurant Association voucher for the team to go out for dinner for research towards developing their dishes for the final.
  • The two students and their teacher will receive a Chef Jacket to wear for the National Final and Awards Dinner.
  • Team managers - opportunity to attend fortnightly Zoom Team Manager Forums from 25th July to 23rd August.
  • A backpack for each student and their teacher.
  • A subsidy towards travel to Auckland, if required.
  • Accommodation for the team and their teacher for 1-2 nights.
  • Team tickets for the NSSCC Awards Dinner on 7th September 2022.
  • Attend the New Zealand Culinary Journey on 8th  September 2022.

In addition, the top 4 students in each region will receive a Workmaster knife valued at $130.

The 2022 NSSCC National Grand Final

Click here for entry information.

The NSSCC National Final will be held at 1pm on Wednesday 7th September 2022.

The NSSCC Awards Presentation

* Medals and Certificates to all Finalists.

* Presentation to Team Managers [Teachers].

* Best Main Dish Video: A Moffat E23M3 oven – value $3,500.

* Four Scholarships.: Equipment Starter Packs valued at $500 to assist four students on their culinary career in 2023.

* Winning School receives:
  - A Moffat E23M3 oven – value $3,500.
  - $1,000 Bidfood Credit to the School account.

* Winning Students.: Each student receives a $500 Pressie card.

Total prize package is over $12,000.

The New Zealand Culinary Journey

The New Zealand Culinary Journey was created to give students a taste of life in the world of a professional chef.

Organised by the New Zealand Culinary Development Trust, and supported by the Hospitality Training Trust, this event provides students the chance to meet some of New Zealand's top chefs, ask questions and watch them at work.

Students also get the the opportunity to take a tour of a busy hospitality kitchen, watch a masterclass and taste some of the best food in the country. They will be able to talk to food and hospitality professionals to get real insight into this challenging and satisfying profession.

2022 Sponsors

Bidfood, House of Knives,

2021 NSSCC and NZCJ

The National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge Grand Final and the New Zealand Culinary Journey were cancelled on 24 August 2021 due to the continued uncertainty around lock down levels and the need to plan for COVID 19 enforced travel and event restrictions.

This was sad news especially for the competitors, teachers and team trainers who had worked hard to prepare for the national final. The Culinary Arts Development Trust wishes all competitors the very best with their future careers in hospitality.

2021 Finalists

WellingtonWellington Trades AcademyJasmine Beech and Tuihana HohaiaToby Sanderson
Hawkes BayHavelock North High SchoolAbbie Lythgoe and Sophia LangfordKate McLennan
Taranaki/WhanganuiNew Plymouth Boys High SchoolJosh Ace and Eddy LiAaron Lock
Canterbury/TasmanMount Hutt College
Meghan Foster and Theo WheatleyLinda Paterson
Otago/SouthlandJohn McGlashan CollegeWilliam Loe and Jed NevillDuncan McLean
Auckland SouthBotany Downs Secondary CollegeWei-Zen Chan and Jorja DiffeyAngie Thomson
Auckland NorthTaipa Area SchoolTamara Hesketh and Karisma KingiNicola Cameron
Te Awamutu College
Caitlyn Blakely and Jenna ChambersWill Cawkwell

2020 NSSCC and NZCJ

The National Secondary Schools Culinary Challenge grand final and the New Zealand Culinary Journey were cancelled due to the continued uncertainty around lock down levels and the need to plan for Covid 19 enforced travel and event restrictions.

2019 Finalists - the winners were Ilisa Folau and Alyssa King

WellingtonWellington High SchoolNikita Dyer and Euliz SamsonBob Naylor
Hawkes BayNapier Girls High SchoolPhoebe Laugesen and Sophie DowningRachel Pollett
TaranakiNew Plymouth Boys High SchoolJamie Ung and Lachie SmithAdrienne Roberts
CanterburyTimaru Boys High SchoolMatt Kennedy and Callum BowmarMegan Blake
SouthlandKings High SchoolNickolas Bryan and Manaia Thomas-ColemanDuncan McLean
Auckland South
Manurewa High SchoolUna Katoa and Dylan
Sara Blackburn
Auckland NorthKamo High SchoolRaivyn-Skye Tangariki-Pou and Daniel HulseJanelle McKenzie
WaikatoTe Awamutu CollegeIlisa Folau and Alyssa KingWill Cawkwell

Winners - NSSCC





2021National Final cancelled due to Covid 19

2020Online Competition and National Final
cancelled due to Covid 19
2019Te Awamutu College - WaikatoIllsa Folau and Alyssa KingWill Cawkwell
2018Burnside High School - ChristchurchMaggie Carroll and Lisa KhorozovaKristie Hanley
2017MIT Trades Academy - AucklandKeita Henry and Sose AilepataGaynor Matthews
2016St John’s College  - Hawke's BaySam Heaven and Daniel MossCraig Ireland
2015Burnside High School - ChristchurchClize Craven and Miku KiyamaNathan Sandes

Judges Feedback - Week 1 NSSCC At Home

13th April 2020

Congratulations to everyone that entered the first week of our at home online competition. We’ve seen some fantastic recipes coming through from students across the country which have been a pleasure to judge.

On behalf of our judging panel I’d like to provide all competitors with a friendly reminder around some of the rules and criteria. One of the first things we look for with each entry is that the competition rules and criteria have actually been met. For this competition that means a couple of things. Firstly, each dish must have a minimum of three fresh or frozen New Zealand vegetables. Secondly, each entry needs to be accompanied by a video posted to Facebook that is no longer than three minutes in duration. The video should show both the preparation, cooking and eating of the dish and use the hashtag #NSSCCathome

We’re not going to disqualify any of the already submitted entries that haven’t met this criteria but will be sending an email back to each entrant pointing out what they have missed. We’re doing this so the entries can be adjusted and resubmitted for a later week. For all new entries we’d ask that you check and ensure that you have met these key requirements before submitting.

Good luck everyone, stay safe and we’ll look forward to seeing more of your great entries over the next few weeks. 

Mark Wylie, Chief Judge NSSCC

Te Awamutu College awarded gold at the 2019 National Grand Final

Yesterday was a day of celebration as Ilisa Folau and Alyssa King representing Te Awamutu College won gold. This massive achievement was due to many hours of training for the National Secondary Schools Culinary Competition Grand Finale.

Folau and King cooked up a storm having to prepare, cook and present, individually plated, four portions of an entrée and four portions of a main course within 90 minutes. The team’s entrée, Dukkah crusted carrot falafel with vibrant carrot puree, pickled carrot, smoked feta and tahini sauce. For the main, Pancetta wrapped Waitoa chicken breast stuffed with black garlic, blackened leek, kumara puree and trio of winter greens.

Chief Judge Mark Wylie commented on the professionalism shown by all 7 teams competing. The competition continues to evolve, and the culinary standards reach new heights every year. Folau and Kings winning dishes showcased contemporary, modern presentation and consistency across each plate served to the team of judges.

Culinary students represented their schools: Wellington High School, Napier Girls High School, New Plymouth Boys’ High School, Timaru Boys High School, King’s High School, Te Awamutu College and Kamo High School.

The competition is proudly sponsored by Bidfood, Moffat, 5+ A Day, Service IQ, Southern Hospitality, Waitoa and, all of whom are supporting the industries upcoming best chefs.

2019 Regional Round Up

In April the Culinary Arts Development Trust launched the 2019 National Secondary Schools Culinary Competition. After many weeks of students preparing and cooking at regional finals, NSSCC have secured 8 teams of two to compete at the grand final in Auckland, September 3.

These are the 8 winning students representing their schools accompanied by one team mate:

  • Hawke's Bay Sophie Downing - Napier Girls’ High School
  • Taranaki / Whanganui Jamie Ung - New Plymouth Boys High School
  • Canterbury / Tasman Matt Kennedy - Timaru Boys’ High School
  • Otago / Southland Nick Bryan - King’s High School
  • Auckland North Raivyn-Skye Tangariki-Pou - Kamo High School
  • Auckland South Una Katoa - Manurewa High School
  • Wellington Nikita Dyer - Wellington High School
  • Waikato Ilisa Folau - Te Awamutu College

Each student competing at the regional final had to prepare, cook and plate two individual portions of an entrée course within 60 minutes. Fresh carrots were a main component of the dish. 

NSSCC highlights and celebrates our best upcoming chefs for the hospitality industry.

The purpose of the Culinary Arts Development Trust and secondary school competitions is to ensure students consider hospitality as a career option and further their culinary studies.

This competition would not be possible without our generous sponsors:

Bidfood, Moffat, 5+ A Day, Service IQ, Southern Hospitality, Waitoa and


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