Beef + Lamb New Zealand has announced the four chefs who will be their next Ambassadors to act as leaders driving innovation and creativity using New Zealand beef and lamb within the foodservice sector.  These four chefs will hold their title throughout 2022 and 2023.

The 2022 – 2023 Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs are:

  • BJ Sebastian, Mudbrick Vineyard, Waiheke Island
  • Andrew May, Amayjen The Restaurant, Palmerston North
  • MacLean Fraser, Artisan at Bolton Hotel, Wellington
  • Cameron Davies, The Fat Duck, Te Anau
From Left: Cameron Davies, Andrew May, MacLean Fraser and BJ Sebastian.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has highlighted a wealth of talented chefs for over a quarter of a century and is proud to see the accolade is still sought after and relevant in today’s hospitality climate.  

The four chefs will join the Beef + Lamb ‘Hall of Fame’ which includes the likes of Phil Clark, Peter Gordon, Kate Fay and Rex Morgan to name just a few.

Foodservice Manager, Lisa Moloney says the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on New Zealand’s hospitality scene has reached a critical point with chefs and restaurant owners under a lot of pressure, ‘and we wanted to reach out to the chef community and give them the opportunity to strive towards something positive’.

“Despite the difficulties it was heartening to see kiwi chefs striving for recognition and taking the next steps to elevate their career.  We were impressed by the high level of innovation and enthusiasm from the chefs who applied,” says Lisa.

“Not only were chefs putting together well thought out beef and lamb dishes with interesting flavour combinations, but the level of execution was very high.  With such a high standard, it was a tough decision whittling it down to four chefs.

“Ultimately, we were looking for chefs to be the voices of Beef + Lamb New Zealand in the hospitality space who can inspire other chefs and help to shape our country’s food story. We looked for chefs who were plating up beef and lamb as the hero and who had the inspiration and knowledge to create a story behind their dish and to help bring diners back to their local hospitality scene.”

To be eligible to enter, chefs needed to submit their most creative, tasty and visually appealing beef and lamb dishes.  Applicants were shortlisted by a Beef + Lamb advisory panel with the finalists having their beef and lamb dishes anonymously assessed in their restaurants earlier this year by culinary-trained experts.

BJ Sebastian is executive head chef at Mudbrick Vineyard on Waiheke Island, and says he was quite overwhelmed to be chosen as an Ambassador Chef, especially given he first studied to be an accountant before changing career paths to become a chef.

“I would describe myself as an ambitious chef so to receive this accolade is an amazing reward for all my hard work,” says BJ.  “I am quite experimental with my dishes, especially when it comes to fermentation, and I think this opens some new and interesting flavour pathways when working with New Zealand beef and lamb.”

Chef and owner Andrew May runs Palmerston North-based restaurant, Amayjen with his wife Jenni.  Andrew is back for his second term as a Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef after first achieving the accolade back in 2019.

“I really enjoyed being part of the Beet + Lamb team and are honoured to be chosen again.  As a chef it really showcases my commitment to using the best products our farmers grow which gives me the confidence to deliver consistently high-quality meals to every customer,” says Andrew. 

“It’s an incredible achievement and to have the support of Beef + Lamb again to highlight what I am doing is invaluable in the current hospitality climate.”

Wellington-based chef, MacLean Fraser is executive chef of Artisan at Bolton Hotel and says being named as an Ambassador Chef has been on his career bucket list for a long time.

“I was really stoked to hear the news – I have had many career highlights, but this would have to up there as one of the best,” says MacLean.  “Looking at the line-up of finalists it’s amazing to get to this level with my peers and then to go on to be selected by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to represent the industry and showcase the amazing products grown here, is just incredible.” 

Chef Cameron Davies owns and runs The Fat Duck in Te Anau with his fiancé, Selina. He is immensely proud to receive the accolade and get the recognition, not just for himself, but for the whole team. 

“I feel really privileged to be in this situation and am excited about the future and the opportunities that will unfold as an Ambassador Chef,” says Cameron.  “There have been chefs I have looked up to over the years who have been Ambassadors for Beef + Lamb NZ and now to be on their level is very special.”

As well as being important voices in the foodservice space, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are hoping to bring back the Ambassador Series dinners where each chef will have the opportunity to show off their skill and creativity to their customers by hosting a dinner in their own restaurant during their term as an ambassador.

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