The Year 12 student was one of the nine WA secondary school finalists selected to compete in the Hospitality Group Training (HGT) Taste of the Future Schools Cooking Competition, which was held at Belmont City College on September 18.
The competition gave students the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills and passion for cooking while also promoting chef apprenticeships and raising awareness about the hospitality industry.
To qualify for the final, competitors had to send in a description of a dish they had cooked and write a one-page essay about why they wanted to become a chef.
At the final cook-off, the young cooks had one hour to prepare a dish of their choice and 45 minutes to cook it.
The only requirement was that chicken had to be a component of the dish.
Kahatoa chose to cook asian-style chicken with sesame and honey oil glaze.
He also made his own vinaigrette out of red wine vinegar, sweet chilli, fresh chilli and coriander to go with a mescalin salad, topped with shredded coconut and carrot.
The dish was inspired by Kahatoa’s love of chillies.
‘Asian cuisine is all about chilli, but it’s more than just throwing chillies into a dish,’ he said.
‘I didn’t want the chilli to be extreme, just a dish with a bit of spice, so I came up with flavours that would work well and balance out.’
Although Kahatoa did not win, the judges ” WA Food Ambassador Don Hancey and Stephen Clarke, owner of Clarke’s of North Beach ” were impressed, saying the flavours were good and well-balanced.
Kahatoa said the competition was a good experience and it reaffirmed his passion for cooking.
He is currently completing a chef’s apprenticeship at the Balmoral Hotel in Victoria Park and plans to travel so he can experience different cuisines from around the world.
Kahatoa was recently named the Hospitality Group Training’s Schools Apprentice of the Year at its annual awards presentation.
He said he would like to open his own restaurant in the future.