The culinary skills of St Columba Anglican School students have reigned supreme with the team of young chefs declared national winners of the 2019 McCormick Flavour Forecast Recipe Challenge.
Year nine and 10 students produced three delicious vegan dishes in their state and national finals.
Sixteen students from the food technology class created spicy Mexican mushroom tacos with vegan cauliflower cream sauce as their mouth-watering main dish.
Their brilliant breakfast dish was poached eggs on sourdough with honey spiced roasted pumpkin, beetroot puree, whipped feta and toasted seeds.
They topped off their rivals with a hefty serve of Mexican Vegana dessert, the Mexican inspired vegan Eton Mess with coconut and paprika vegan ice cream.
Caitlan Lloyd, 16, said the entire menu had to be completed with an overall budget of $26 and taco stands were provided from technology applied studies students.
"Initially we were wondering how we would make a vegan dessert but we did some research and through that we realised it wasn't as hard as we thought," she said.
"In the end we adapted a meringue recipe to use the juice of chickpeas and lemon to create the consistency of egg white with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla for flavour.
"The ice-cream was made of coconut milk, sugar and lemon with Mexican spice.
"The biggest thing for me was the vegan ice-creams, it just tasted normal and just as creamy."
Tim Ebbs, 15 said there was about two weeks' planning in the process.
"We spent a quite a bit of time brainstorming for ideas. We decided as a class to taste test and use our better ideas," he said.
"Before going in the competition I had very straight forward views on what to eat like meat and veggies. After completing the task I realise there are so many different options that can be used as replacements or experimented with."
Judges were impressed with their students' written responses such as recipe instructions, ingredient justification and reflections.
McCormick Foods Australia culinary product development Michelle Zammit said there was clear evidence the team had thought about the different proteins and meal techniques.
"We have been inspired and impressed to see how the students have adapted the 2019 flavours to create their own original dishes," she said.
"Initially we were impressed with their presentation, they had beautiful pictures, the recipes matched what was produced perfectly well and their dishes were balanced well.
"The trends for 2020 are still very much focused on that vegan aspect of trying out what different ingredients can do.
"I think initially students may have struggled with that (style) because it's not widely known as a cooking technique. As they researched they realised they could use replacements and masking flavours to do different things.
"I think environment, sustainability and those issues all roll into one and that's what the kids are learning about now. It's played well into that area."
The annual tournament in its seventh year aims to discover creative flair in cooking, realise the extent of food techniques and encourage healthy eating practices.
Competitors were given the cooking themes of 'Need for Seed' and 'Mexicana Vegana'.
St Columba Anglican School food technology teacher Amanda Cooper said she is extremely proud of her students.
"Discovering flavour trends linked to 'Need for Seeds' and 'Mexicana Vegana' was a challenge for the students to create an innovation of flavour combinations and techniques," she said.
"Students exceeded expectations by designing unique recipes for the competition with strong teamwork and communication skills.
"Students produced the finest restaurant quality food which was professional presented and captured by amazing food photography."
Results from the competition are used in the industry based report, McCormick Flavour Forecast.
What else is making news, sport.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.