Sam Heaven from the Park Hyatt in Auckland has cooked, carved and plated his way into the Beef + Lamb New Zealand hall of fame. 

Sam has won the title of Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef after a 90-minute cook-off against the other two finalists – Ashley Knudsen from No. 7 Balmac in Dunedin and Lyall Minhinnick from Fleurs Place in Moeraki, held recently at Homeland – Peter Gordon’s new cooking school in Auckland.

Sam is no newcomer to competitions and says he is over the moon about his win.

“I am so excited to get this opportunity to represent Beef + Lamb New Zealand and to be mentored by some great chefs – I am looking forward to making the most out of it and learning as much as possible.”

“It’s going to be amazing to look back in years to come and know that I was the first Young Ambassador Chef” says Sam.

The three finalists were chosen earlier in the year after young chefs from around the country were invited to submit their best beef and lamb dishes to be in with a chance to be a finalist and cook for the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs Tejas Nikam, Phil Clark, Norka Mella Munoz and Jack Crosti, who were the judges on the day.

Judges were impressed with Sam’s dishes and his thought processes which had gone into creating them.  This, along with his innovative plating and excellent flavour profiles, tipped the judges’ decision to crown Sam as the winning young chef.

“Sam had the whole package and was so well focused on the job of delivering extremely tasty and well executed dishes to the judges table,” says head judge, Norka Mella Munoz.

“All the elements of his dish connected and the ingredients and flavour combinations were exceptional.”

Norka says all three young chefs did extremely well on the day, as it’s not easy cooking under pressure.  She is proud of these young chefs stepping out of their comfort zone as the experience of networking with other chefs will benefit all their future careers.

As well as the prestigious title, Sam will receive mentoring throughout the year from the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs, plus a hands-on paddock to plate experience from Greenstone Creek beef and Provenance Lamb.

The cooking competition was a first for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, who for twenty-five years have been shaping the careers of head chefs and executive chefs around the country.

With the foodservice industry being hit hard over the past year by the pandemic, Beef + Lamb New Zealand wanted to look to the future and provide inspiration for young chefs to get excited about their careers, says Lisa Moloney, Foodservice Manager at Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“New Zealand farmers should be reassured that these young chefs are doing their product proud and I can safely say the future of New Zealand’s foodservice industry is in good hands” says Lisa.

Ep 4. The Final Decision | Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef Competition – YouTube

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