Twelve of the country’s top restaurants have made the final cut in the second annual Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards. The field was narrowed down from 69 restaurants that created a dish using one of the finest Silver Fern Farms lamb, beef, venison or SILERE alpine origin merino cuts. The dishes featured on menus over six weeks in September and October for the judges and diners to put them to the test.
Judges travelled from Matakana to Queenstown, tasting and scoring the dishes, looking for how well each chef crafted their dish. Key judging criteria included presentation, cooking, taste and innovation. Head Judge, Kerry Tyack, had a difficult task of narrowing the field down to 12 finalists.
“The standard of entries was again exceptional,” says Tyack. “The careful and considered treatment of the meat component in the entry dishes was very strong and expertly focused on the high quality of Silver Fern Farms red meat. The best dishes were complete with excellent composition, technical strength and overall satisfaction. Some chefs served up wonderfully classic renditions while others pushed the boundaries incorporating a range of different cooking techniques in the one dish. Use of regional produce was again popular this year, showing that Kiwi chefs are aware of this strong cuisine trend and are showing how incorporating local ingredients can provide a unique palate point of difference to their entry.”
The good news is that diners throughout New Zealand have the opportunity to experience these dishes at the 12 finalist restaurants until the end of March 2015. The finalists will have their dishes re-judged to select the supreme award winner who will receive the title of Premier Master of Fine Cuisine at an event in Auckland on 3 February, 2015.
The finalists and their dishes are:
Upper North Island:
Mikey Newlands, Bracu Restaurant, Auckland – Silver Fern Farms Reserve eye fillet and rib of beef with cauliflower, mustard and burnt onion
Sam Clark, Cable Bay Vineyard Restaurant, Waiheke Island – SILERE alpine origin merino lamb rump & breast, charred eggplant, black kale, goats curd & balsamic
Central North Island:
Mat McLean, Palate Restaurant, Hamilton (Silver Fern Farms Premier Master of Fine Cuisine 2013 Awards) – Silver Fern Farms venison loin with parsnip puree, bitter chocolate ravioli, beetroot and shitake salad, confit potato with pinot noir and cherry jus.
Scott Corbett, No8 Bar & Brasserie, Whitianga (Finalist chef 2013 Premier Selection Awards) -Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef eye fillet with Parma ham, truffle mushrooms, spinach, potato pom poms, red onion and blue cheese.
Stephen Barry, Mount Bistro, Tauranga – SILERE alpine origin merino lamb medallions with honey mustard glazed ribs on earth gems, char grilled baby leek, watercress & pea pannacotta with compressed grapes in peppered pinot.
Lower North Island:
MacLean Fraser, Artisan Restaurant at The Bolton Hotel, Wellington – Pot au feu – Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef eye fillet and braised short rib in mushroom consommé with baby carrots and heart and barley stuffed cabbage.
Laurent Loudeac, Hippopotamus Restaurant at The Museum Hotel, Wellington – Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef eye fillet, braised beef cheeks cannelloni, glazed short rib, bone marrow and cèpes jus.
Upper South Island:
Darren Wright, Chillingworth Road, Christchurch – Duo of Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef with red cabbage and swede.
Nicholas Freeman, Freemans Dining Room, Lyttleton – Grilled Reserve sirloin, sticky rib tortellini, smoked mushroom & kumara croquette & celeriac purée.
Lower South Island:
Gwen Harvie, Carrick Winery Restaurant, Bannockburn, Central Otago – Carpaccio of Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Hereford Striploin, beef and enoki mushroom broth and braised tri tip croquettes.
Helen Mason, Two Chefs Bistro, Dunedin – Miso brushed and roasted Silver Fern Farms Cervena venison loin, char siu venison steamed bun, spring vegetables and ginger.
Scott Wysockyj, Wakatipu Grill at The Hilton, Queenstown – Silver Fern Farms venison short loin, smoked artichoke purée, parsnip crisps, chestnut gel, redcurrant spheres, mushroom cloud.