Local chef wins national recognition

News News & events

15 Nov 2017

Sarah Mcfelin, a chef at Zest in Timaru, has been named the up-and-coming chef of the year at the recent inaugural Hospitality New Zealand Rising Stars Awards held in Wellington.

Sarah Mcfelin (right) with her award, sponsored by Lion. Here she is pictured with Sarah Tucker, Lion External Relations Director. 

“Out of all of New Zealand, being up on that stage getting that award was unreal,” Mcfelin says. “I always say I’m just doing my job – I’m not doing anything special - but they seem to have thought otherwise. I just love that I can show people that no matter where you work, you can make a difference and win big if you put the work in.”

Mcfelin has been making a difference at Zest since graduating with a cookery diploma from Ara Institute of Canterbury in Timaru. Ara tutor Wally Katene says he always knew Sarah was special. “To be awarded best young chef in the country is a high accolade and to be chosen by industry professionals is pretty special. We’re very proud of her.”

In turn, the 25-year-old credits her tutors at Ara for setting her up to go further in her career than she ever thought she could. “The tutors always believed in us and I thrive in that type of environment so I’m grateful to them.”

Mcfelin was only just able to make the awards, having been in hospital, but she was cleared to attend. “Sadly I didn’t get to celebrate as much as I wanted because I was still recovering but I was just happy that I was able to make it.”

She’s still coming to terms with her win. “There’s no way I ever thought I would be running a kitchen, let alone be recognised on a national level. It’s crazy but it’s motivation to see what else I can accomplish!”