Model chef was Nestlé Toque d'Or winner

News News & events

28 Jul 2014

Four years after winning top New Zealand hospitality award, the Nestlé Toque d’Or, CPIT graduateRhys Barrington is private chef to models and body builders in Sydney.

“With its huge population, Sydney has thousands of households in the market for a private chef. This involves planning individual menus for each client and working to extremely strict and often just plain strange dietary requirements. Sometimes the logistics of these events can be more stressful than the actual cooking,” he says.

“I also have a group of body builders and models that I cook for. They have extremely strict diets so I prepare bulk batches of food and deliver it to them.”

Rhys and two teammates from CPIT won gold medals at Nestlé Toque d’Or in 2010 and walked away with the top accolade of being named the overall winning team.

He understands only too well what competitors are now going through as they prepare for the 2014 event on 18 August. The CPIT team has been training for four months to try to retain the title for the institute, which has won the event 14 times in the last 23 years.

“In the lead up to the event - we were hard at work critiquing every little detail of our dishes, and our overall performance.”

toque d'or winners 2014

Rhys Barrington (left), pictured with the winning Nestle Toque D’or team of 2010, Bonnie Lee-Smith and Gavin Larson, is now cooking for some of Sydney’s most particular diners.

Rhys’ tips for this year’s competitors are to keep cool under pressure, have a laugh and listen to their trainers.

“The trainers will undoubtedly be tough on their teams, in order to push them to achieve their very best. They have often competed themselves and know what it takes to win. It’s also a rare opportunity to have high quality one-to-one tutoring which students can use to their full advantage during the early stages of their careers.”

As well as top place, Rhys came out of his Nestlé Toque d’Or experience with new contacts within the industry and a share of the prize money.

“Mine was eventually well spent eating in three Michelin-starred restaurants in New York.”

The day after the competition, Rhys and his team mates went to watch one of their friends compete in a front of house competition. He was approached by several high profile New Zealand chefs who offered him positions in their kitchens. He accepted a role at Blanket Bay Lodge where he worked for over a year and a half.

Rhys’ career on the other side of the Tasman started with a job working at a two hat Sydney restaurant called Four in Hand.

“This was challenging because their standards are so high and they also specialise in offal. During my time there, I learnt to cook cheaper cuts of meat like snouts, tongues and tails to the exacting standards of such a highly respected restaurant.”

Rhys then went on to become more involved in private cooking.