After receiving a record number of entries the judges of the Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards have found their twelve finalists. In the end it was the use of creative cuts and innovative techniques that separated the best chefs from the rest by the smallest of margins.
The field was narrowed down from 73 entrants who created an original dish using one of the Silver Fern Farms’ cuts of lamb, beef or venison. Beef has proven popular with judges, with seven beef dishes making the finals, using a wide variety of cuts including short rib, tongue, and beef cheeks.
The final restaurants are spread from Waiheke Island to Ophir. Three restaurants, Palate Restaurant (Hamilton), Pitches Café and Restaurant (Ophir), Salt on the Waterfront (New Plymouth), are backing up on their success after also being finalists last year. In the case of Palate Restaurant, this is the fourth straight year that chef Mat McLean has made the cut.
Judges travelled from Paihia to Winton, tasting and scoring the dishes based on presentation, meat cookery, complementing elements, taste and texture, creativity, and dish promotion. The aim was to let the red meat be the hero on the plate.
The dishes featured on restaurant menus over five weeks in September and October, giving both judges and diners the opportunity to sample the creations.
Judging coordinator Kerry Tyack said it was difficult to trim the entrants down to twelve finalists.
“I’ve never been more excited by the extent of positive feedback from the judging team. Not only have these highly qualified assessors reported amazing feats of creativity but they have noted an ever-increasing awareness from chefs all around the country of the value in choosing to cook with premium cuts of meat. The tally of marks has shown this to be a year of high quality competition. Selecting finalists was difficult enough. Choosing just one for the supreme award from such a stellar line-up is a going to be an even more challenging mission””
Silver Fern Farms General Manager Marketing, Sharon Angus, says this year’s entrants’ dishes were innovative and of excellent quality.
“We are always excited to work with such talented chefs and see what they can create using our lamb, beef and venison. The diversity in the dishes this year is outstanding with many chefs making use of some of the less-obvious secondary meat cuts.”
“Many of the chefs have commented that their entry dishes have been in hot demand with diners, and the Premier Selection Awards are a great opportunity for chefs to showcase their artistry and talent using the finest cuts of red meat.”
Diners throughout New Zealand will be able to experience the 12 finalist dishes until the end of February 2017. Kerry Tyack and co-judge Tony Adcock will visit all finalist restaurants prior to Christmas to re-judge the dishes.
The winners will be announced at an event in Auckland on 8 February 2017, where the five category winners will be revealed and the supreme winner awarded the title of Premier Master of Fine Cuisine.
The finalists and their dishes are:
Archive Bar & Bistro, Mudbrick, Waiheke Island
Head Chef: Logan Coath
Dish: Slow cooked Silver Fern Farms beef short rib with celeriac & fennel remoulade, radish and garden herbs
Molten Wine Bar, Auckland
Head Chef: Alex Aitken
Dish: Wood fire-grilled Silver Fern Farms rolled lamb belly salad of pea, broad bean, goats cheese with anchovy butter
White + Wong’s, Auckland City
Head Chef: Tu Fearn
Dish: Silver Fern Farms master stock braised beef cheek, eggplant miso & burnt butter puree, wok fried mushrooms with chilli & black vinegar, choi sum & crispy tripe
Palate Restaurant, Hamilton
Head Chef: Mat McLean
Dish: Silver Fern Farms short rib, grilled tongue, smoked potato & liquorice
Salt On The Waterfront at the Waterfront Hotel, New Plymouth
Sous Chef: Richard Ponder
Dish: Silver Fern Farms beef two ways, tartare & crispy rib braised with beetroot pickles, gel, rice cracker & wasabi snow
Amayjen – The Restaurant, Feilding
Head Chef: Andrew May
Dish: Silver Fern Farms venison tenderloin encased in a truffle & trumpet mousse, with beetroot, Silver Fern Farms Shank risotto cake, cranberry gel, celeriac remoulade, fondant pot, shallot, kale, seasonal vegetables & a port wine & beetroot jus
Chameleon Restaurant at the Intercontinental Wellington, Wellington
Chef de Cuisine: Paul Limacher
Dish: Silver Fern Farms beef tenderloin, mushroom ragout, roast Parmesan gnocchi, button onion & asparagus
Shed 5, Wellington
Head Chef: Geoff Ngan
Dish: Cumin gremolata Silver Fern Farms lamb fillet, lamb neck & swede pithivier, honey & mint carrot, broad beans, chèvre croquette, braising liquor
Hopgood’s Restaurant, Nelson
Head Chef: Aaron Ballantyne
Dish: Silver Fern Farms lamb double cutlet & slow cooked shoulder with artichokes, asparagus, salted grapes & capers
Pitches Café and Restaurant, Pitches Store, Ophir
Head Chef: Daniel Hill
Dish: Eye of the Mist – Silver Fern Farms Reserve eye fillet, beef cheeks, bone marrow
Bistro Gentil, Wanaka
Head Chef: Mario Rodrigues
Dish: Steak and Onions – Silver Fern Farms Reserve eye fillet, onion caramel, tempura shallots, smoked shallot puree, red onion relish, herb oil & black garlic jus
Vault 21, Dunedin
Group Chef: Greg Piner
Dish: Cured Silver Fern Farms venison short loin, trio of mushroom, pickled shiitake, sep puree, tempura needle mushrooms, compressed radish, ponzu, black truffle salt, pea tendrils & crispy shallots