According to Stonegrill New Zealand, the hot stone cooking system is enjoying another surge in popularity. The trend, where meals are served cooking as they arrive at the table on super-heated natural lava stones, is set to explode this year, as increasing numbers of Kiwis look for healthier, more personalised dining options, and eating styles such as Paleo and Primal gain even more followers.
Peter Busch, Stonegrill New Zealand National Manager, believes that the cooking method, which is offered by restaurants and bars from Kaitaia in the north to Queenstown in the south, complements the general movement towards healthier, more individualised dining.
“We have new bars and restaurants signing up to the Stonegrill system every month. This includes more small town New Zealand bars and restaurants, due to the licensing law changes and parameters for the sale and consumption of alcohol,” explains Peter. “Hot stone cooking fits the way many Kiwis want to eat today – with an eye toward freshness and good quality New Zealand ingredients that don’t need any tampering with. It’s one of the healthiest ways to eat, supported by National Heart Foundations all over the world, which is appealing to people watching their waistlines but not wanting to lose out on taste. No oils or fats are used in the cooking process, just the natural flavours and moisture of the chosen meat or fish.”
“2015 will also see dining become even more personalised,” adds Peter. “Customers want everything from their burger to their coffee to their evening meal out to be 100% customisable – just think about your soy decaf caramel skinny latte. With hot stone cooking, diners are in control of their food. Their steak or fish can be cooked precisely how they like to eat it – all they have to do is slice it when it reaches the table. With the focus on pure, fresh ingredients, such as top quality meat and vegetables, it is also ideal for people following particular diets such as Paleo, which is not showing any signs of decreasing in popularity, or those wanting a gluten-free or low-fat meal.”
Restaurants and bars are also recognising the benefits hot stone cooking provides, both for their customers and for the chefs and restaurant owners.
“Over the past 20 years, we have been fortunate enough to form strong relationships with more than 80 New Zealand restaurants and bars – Degree Bar in the Auckland Viaduct, The Grand Wellington, Styx and Stone in Christchurch, Terrace Restaurant in Dunedin, Café Izone in the Rolleston Business Hub and Ahipara Bay Motel at Ninety Mile Beach, to name a few,” says Peter. “In the early days, chefs saw us as competition but now they realise that we can give them a way of cooking that cuts down their prep time in the kitchen and allows a very quick, convenient, cost-efficient turnaround of fresh, healthy, tasty food.”
Stonegrill New Zealand, which was established by Kiwi Tony Scott, became an overnight success when he started introducing the concept to restaurants in 1995. This year, Stonegrill is celebrating its 20th anniversary; making it one of the longest established and most successful F&B license systems in the country.
Stonegrill is now looking for restaurant and bar partners in regional New Zealand, including Fox and Franz Josef, Kaikoura, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Wanaka.
For more information on Stonegrill New Zealand, visit www.stonegrill.co.nz