Harbour Light Bistro’s demi-chef Alex Herbert took out the Nelson Hospitality Award’s Up and Coming Chef competition last month. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Long hours pay off

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Alex Herbert believes all the hard work and long hours he has spent in the kitchen are starting to pay off, after he was announced as the winner of the Nelson Hospitality Award’s Up and Coming Chef section.

The 22 year old, originally from England but grew up in Golden Bay, is the Harbour Light Bistro’s demi-chef de partie, and says the win was a big surprise and reward for the work he has put in over the past two and half years in the hospitality industry.  “I wasn’t expecting it at all. But I work pretty hard,” he says. “There have been a lot of nights when I’ve been in the kitchen at 11 o’clock and I could’ve started at eight in the morning. It shows that the hard work pays off in the end.”

Alex contested the Up and Coming Chef section against four other chefs from across the region. The competition featured a “mystery box” format, where all contestants were given the same ingredients.

Included amongst the items were a chicken breast and streaky bacon, plus an assortment of standard vegetables. Alex made a chicken breast stuffed with a citrus mousseline, something familiar and a dish he thought the judges would like. “I thought I’d go something more complex, but we do something similar here at the Harbour Light and that’s where I got the idea for it. You don’t go to that sort of thing  trying something you’ve never done before.”

Alex believes the Harbour Light Bistro, where he first started as a NMIT student doing work experience, is a restaurant that enables him to learn and showcase his skills.

The rest of the winners, including the Bidvest Restaurant of the Year, will be announced  at the New Zealand King Salmon Nelson Hospitality Awards on August 25.