Hospitality Business Magazine

Finalists announced in New Zealand’s Vegetarian Dish Challenge 2016

rsz_vegetarian_challengeBeetroot and brussel sprouts no longer sit in the wings but instead take centre stage at this year’s New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge.

The premier vegetable competition celebrates the very best of fresh New Zealand grown vegetables and challenges Kiwi chefs to create delicious and inspired meals across the three categories of breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner/fine dining.

This year’s competition has been taken to a whole new level with the inclusion of tofu, falafel and vegetarian bean sausages in the ingredients list.

Competition organiser and food services consultant, Pip Duncan of, said as plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity, chefs are needing to provide a greater range of choice of vegetable dishes.

“With a growing number of people choosing to eat a plant based diet as well as those who just want to try new ways with vegetables, chefs are being called upon to create imaginative and tasty vegetable dishes.    Vegetables are no longer just the domain of dinner offerings and feature on menus at all times of the day.

“The competition provides an unrivalled opportunity to not only learn new skills but attract new customers, providing a winning combination for both chef and restaurant.”

The finalists of the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge 2016 are:


Adam Thorley-Symes – The Shack, Raglan

Beetroot and tofu tian, pressed kumara, herb puree, hazelnut, quince & figs”

Jinu Abraham, Executive Chef – Heritage Hotel, Auckland

Tofu scramble with sausage pattie and palette of potato

Terry Lowe – Hewitt House, Napier Girls High School, Napier

Beetroot, apple, chia and cinnamon tofu stack


Jared Gee, Head Chef – Thomas Green Public House and Dining Room, Gore

Baby beetroot and Blue River Feta

Jonny Taggard – The Redoubt, Te Awamutu

Smoked Firm Tofu with a hangi of agria potato and artichoke panna cotta

Kirisi Filipo  – Wharekauhau Estate, Palliser Bay

Spiced Red Pepper Olive Grove Falafel stuffed Cabbage, roasted Kumara, with Kawakawa, Pistachio, Chilli & cashew nut crusted parsnip, goats curd, and beetroot gel


Chetan Pangam, Executive Chef – One 80 Restaurant, Copthorne Hotel, Wellington

Endless possibilities – carrots & cauli

Drew-Anne Weeds – Peppers Clearwater, Christchurch

‘Out of this Earth’

Marc Soper, Executive Chef – Wharekauhau Estate, Palliser Bay

Agria potato crepe, spinach tofu mousse, butternut falafel cannelloni, seasonal vegetables, nuts and seeds, lemon olive oil emulsion

Each finalist will receive a New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge Excellence Award Plaque and the winners of each category will be announced in July.

The judging panel led by Head Judge, Mark Wylie, Culinary Services Manager at Compass Group, includes Geoff Scott, consultant Chef, Andy Gibb, Chef tutor at Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic, Chef and Life Health Foods product developer, Bevan Gray and Hospitality NZ’s Operations Manager, Tracy Scott.

Mark Wylie, said “the judges felt the overall standard of entry was very high and it was pleasing to see a broad range of establishments from around the country represented.  There were some fantastic innovative uses of the new ingredients – falafel, tofu and bean sausages – together with an imaginative and contemporary approach to vegetables.”

The three winners to be announced in July will be awarded a New Zealand Vegetarian Dish winner plate, a Samsung 1100w-semi commercial programmable microwave and an Air New Zealand mystery weekend voucher worth $1200.