High-profile, visiting Australian celebrity chef Justin North and Queenstown Italian executive chef Mauro Battaglia cooked up a storm together recently at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Set on of the country’s most picturesque lakeside spots, the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant at Walter Peak is renowned for its gourmet barbeque lunches and dinners, accompanied by innovative and beautifully-presented salads. As executive chef for Walter Peak High Country Farm, Mauro earned great accolades from Justin, who says he was greeted by an absolutely beautiful aroma as he entered the restaurant.
The Kiwi-born celebrity chef has a big award-winning profile, both in the kitchen and on television. He’s been renowned internationally for his award-winning restaurants so it was quite an honour for Mauro.
On holiday in New Zealand with his Sydney-based family, North got stuck in and spent several hours cooking outdoors on the barbeque with Mauro. His family joined him and they all enjoyed a fabulous lunch of barbequed lamb and beef with Walter Peak salads. “We had a good chat and he was really impressed with what we do,” says Mauro, “a nice guy, very down to earth.”
There’s a big focus on what’s fresh and seasonal in the salad line-up and Mauro says Justin enjoyed the vibrant colours and flavours of roasted heirloom tomatoes and red, yellow and purple carrots. The tomatoes were served with fresh pomegranate and pickled garlic, lots of basil, fresh herbs and olive oil and Marlborough flaky salt. “When you think barbeque you don’t usually think about the nice salads that go with it,” says Mauro. “It’s not just about the meat but the nice condiments and fresh salads.” The carrots were steamed, roasted in satay spices, goat’s cheese and orange blossom vinaigrette. Ribbons of courgette were seasoned with Manchego sheep’s cheese, imported from Spain, via a “secret contact” of Mauro’s, dried black olives were grated on top with fresh oregano. Hot potatoes came out topped with Romecesco sauce, while fresh corn with chipotle and lime butter made the perfect finishing touch.
“It was just very summery and nice and fresh,” says Mauro.
Justin was suitably impressed. “Credit to Mauro Battaglia and his whole team as it’s clear that a lot of love, care and thought goes into the food,” he said at the time. “You can see there is such a lovely culture within the kitchen team, and everyone is so passionate about what they’re doing. You can tell it’s more than just a job to everyone.”
There was also a strong focus on sustainability.
“Often when there’s a meat or BBQ focussed menu vegetables can become secondary, but the colour of these dishes hits you with beautiful heirloom tomatoes, heritage carrots, beans, and so on – it just looks stunning and provides a really nice balance to the meat,” Justin said.