Last week, 30 top New Zealand food writers attended a special launch event held in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards. Over 170 restaurants across the nation received the coveted Award which acknowledges chefs and restaurants who consistently reach a high standard of beef and lamb cuisine.
The Excellence Awards, established in 1997 from an idea presented to Beef + Lamb New Zealand by an advisory panel of chefs, are the nation’s longest running culinary awards held in high regard by those in the food service industry. With over 200 restaurants entering into the awards this year, 173 restaurants have received a gold rimmed plate recognising their outstanding beef and lamb cookery and expertise in the kitchen.
Rod Slater, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc., says the fact the Awards have been running for two decades is a testimony to the timelessness of beef and lamb dishes in New Zealand. “For twenty years, we have been guaranteeing Kiwis when they go into an Excellence Award-holding restaurant, they will be served only quality beef and lamb dishes. “We’ve seen some of the best beef and lamb dishes New Zealand has to offer and it has been a real honour to work with such talented chefs,” says Slater.
As well as acknowledging restaurants who have reached an exceptional level of beef and lamb cookery, the Awards also select five top chefs from across the country to be 2016 Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chefs.
The Ambassador Chefs are involved in a programme of beef and lamb activities throughout the year, including a series of degustation dinners where each chef holds a ticketed event in their respective restaurants, inviting diners to experience their skill with beef and lamb cuisine.
The 2016 Ambassador Chefs are:
• Andi Bozhiqi from Millhouse Restaurant at the Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown
• Andrew Clarke from Victoria Street Bistro in Hamilton
• Shaun Clouston from Logan Brown in Wellington
• Reon Hobson from Pescatore at The George in Christchurch
• Scott Kennedy from Nero Restaurant in Palmerston North
Newly announced 2016 Ambassador Chef, Andrew Clarke, says this is something he has been working towards for a long time. “I have been striving for the title for the last few years because it is held in such high prestige by the industry. I have put a lot of work into developing recipes to make them new, different and exciting and it feels good to have the hard work pay off,” he says. To receive the New Zealand Beef + Lamb Excellence Award, restaurants are critiqued by culinary trained assessors on all elements of their dishes from composition to taste, degree of cooking and tenderness.
Diners can find a full list of 2016 Excellence Award restaurants at nzexcellenceawards.co.nz