GCC: Australia, Guam Win Pacific Challenge Competitions


Guam – The smells emanating from the kitchen at Guam Community College last week were irresistibly mouth-watering.

That’s because chefs from Guam, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands, and junior chefs from the Guam Community College Culinary Arts program, were busy whipping up culinary works of art during the World Association of Chef’s Societies (WACS) Pacific Challenge. GCC co-hosted the event with the Micronesian Chefs Association, with help from Anchor of New Zealand as the event sponsor. When it was all over, Australia emerged as the overall champion, with Guam winning the canapé competition.

The junior chefs competed on Wednesday, with 24 teams each preparing a succulent main dish with the following ingredients: chicken, papaya, okra, lemon grass, Anchor heavy cream, and salayut, a local edible weed. 

[Pacific Challenge chefs’ lineup:From left, Neil Abrahams, Australia (overall winner); Chef Shailesh Naidu, Fiji; Chef Sam Timoko and Sous chef Teraitua, Cook Islands; Chef Gary Miller, New Zealand; Chef Peter Duenas, Guam; and Glenn Austin of Australia, WACS Pacific Rim Continental Director.]

The local professional chef’s competition happened Thursday morning, September 19th. That afternoon, the official Pacific Challenge got under way, with the chefs from the five countries first squaring off in a canapé competition. Guam emerged as the winner, based on Chef Peter Duenas’ beautiful and daring wasabi cheesecake. On Friday, September 20th, the Pacific Challenge Three-Course Black Box competition challenged the chefs to use Pork tenderloin, tilapia, spam, atis, Budweiser beer, banana leaves, manzanita, local long beans, and Anchor cooking cream, among other ingredients, to produce a three-course meal including appetizer, main dish, and dessert. Australia emerged as the winner of the black box competition. Working with Australian Chef Neil Abrahams was GCC Culinary Arts student Regine Olarte.

“It was overwhelming because at first, I didn’t know how to work with him. But it was an honor to work with a chef from another place, and he was very nice,” Olarte said.

“It was an honor to host these chefs from other parts of the Pacific,” said Chef Peter Duenas, President of the Micronesian Chefs Association. “I think everyone who participated learned a lot, from the various types of competitions to working under pressure. And based on the results of the competition, we know that Guam’s culinary talent is comparable to that of anywhere else in the world,” he said. Duenas’ sous chef, Kennylynn Miranda, is the chef de partie at the Hyatt Regency Guam and a GCC Culinary Arts graduate. She also competed in the 2012 Pacific Challenge in Vanuatu last year with Chef Christopher Aguon of Guam’s Table 35 restaurant.

“The importance of hosting the Pacific Challenge at GCC cannot be understated,” said Chef Paul Kerner, GCC instructor and 2013 Pacific Challenge competition coordinator. “Our students are gaining exposure to professional chefs from other regions, getting to work with them and observing the variety of ways that they are using our local foods to create culinary works of art.”

Jasmine Nadres, another Culinary Arts student, was one of the youngest competitors in the junior chefs competition, yet her skills earned her a second place finish.

“It was a shock when I found out I took second place,” Nadres said. “It was nerve-wracking to have to put all your passion and your drive into this one dish to prepare for all of these master chefs,” she said. During the official Pacific Challenge competition, Nadres served as sous chef to New Zealand Chef Gary Miller.

The judges for each competition scored the entries on their presentation, degree of difficulty and of course, taste. The competition results are as follows:

Junior Chef Black Box competition

1st place, Delmer Gubatan, Outrigger Resort Guam, GCC Culinary Arts graduate
2nd place, Jasmine Nadres – Hyatt Regency Guam, GCC Culinary Arts student
3rd place, Sam Reyes, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, GCC Culinary Arts graduate

Local Professional Chefs Black Box competition

1st place, Eddie Chien, Delmonicos
2nd place, Carlos Laguana, GCC Culinary Arts instructor
3rd place, Sean Jung, Westin Resort Guam

Pacific Challenge Teams:

Chef – Neil Abrahams
Sous Chef – Regine Olarte, GCC Culinary Arts student

Chef – Peter Duenas, Meskla Restaurant, MCA President
Sous chef – Kennylyn Miranda, Hyatt Chef de Partie’ and GCC Culinary Arts graduate

Cook Islands
Chef – (Chief) Sam Timoko
Sous Chef – Teraitua

Chef – Shailesh Naidu
Sous Chef – Delmer Gubatan, Outrigger Resort, GCC Culinary Arts graduate

New Zealand
Chef Gary Miller
Sous chef – Jasmine Nadres, GCC Culinary Arts student

Canapé competition

Guam – Gold (Canapé winner)
Australia – Gold
New Zealand:  Gold
Cook & Fiji – Silver

Pacific Challenge 3-course Black Box Competition

Australia – Gold (winner of the 3-course Black Box and overall competition winner)
Guam and New Zealand – Gold
Cook Islands and Fiji – Silver

Pacific Challenge Sponsors:

Anchor, MBI, GCC, UOG Cooperative Extension, Guam Farmers Cooperative,
Quality, Westin, Hyatt, Outrigger, Hertz Rent-a-Car,
IDI, Triple J, and Luen Feung

The judges for the respective competitions:

Wednesday, Sept. 18 – Local Junior Chef Competition


Bertrand Haurillon – MCA
Josef Budde – MCA
Daniel Lenherr – MCA
Ken Stewart – MCA
Mike Brown – MBI
Eihleen Santiago – MBI

Thursday, Sept. 19 – Local Professional Chef Competition


Bertrand Haurillon – MCA
Josef Budde – MCA
Ken Stewart – MCA
Riza Raymundo – Fonterra
Noel Metra – MBI

Thursday, Sept. 19 – PCC Canape Competition

Friday, Sept. 20 – Black Box Competition


Josef Budde – MCA
Glenn Austin – WACS
Cassandra Austin – WACS
Murray Dick – NZCA

The winners were announced at the WACS Pacific Challenge Awards banquet at the Westin Resort Guam on Friday, September 20.