A restaurant-quality burger won Woodford House student Isabella Mickleson first prize in a national Secondary School Burger Competition.
Her creation, which combined the distinct flavours of marinated Angus beef fillet steak with homemade blue cheese dressing and homemade beetroot relish, impressed judges at the Manukau Institute of Technology cooking school.
"It was delicious. There was so much variety, so many different textures and tastes, I was really impressed," said Sarah Walker, from Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Ms Mickleson's burger had been a work in progress since she took up the challenge as a project at school.
"I first came up with something that had flavours which I enjoyed. I made it at school and my teacher chose me as the class winner. From there we worked to prepare it for regionals," she said.
"After competing there, I took on the judges' feedback and made some more changes. I also got a lot of people to try it, both people who like blue cheese and others who don't."
The final product was born from a passion for cooking and a love of creating food with flair.
"My mum has always been a really amazing cook and I have been helping her since I was about 10 years old. It became a real passion and I got a job at a cafe where I started washing dishes, then I was going in every second Sunday to cook."
Despite all her hard work and preparation, the 16-year-old was not sure what to expect from the competition or who she would face.
"It was insanely nerve-racking. When all the burgers were plated up and on show I was amazed at the standard and at what a group of teenagers had managed to come up with in an hour."
The competition, run by Beef +Lamb NZ, aimed to encourage teenagers to showcase their creative cooking style and the grand final saw eight senior and eight junior students battle it out for gold medals and cash prizes.
Each burger had to contain beef or lamb, the rest was up to the chef.
Ms Mickleson took out the senior competition with her "New Zealand Beef Fillet with a Touch of Blue" burger, winning $750 cash plus $1000 for her school. She also took home a chef's kit worth $350, sponsored by the Hospitality Standard Institute.