The field was narrowed down from 62 entrants who created an original dish using one of the Silver Fern Farms cuts of lamb, beef, venison or SILERE alpine origin merino.
Judges travelled from Kerikeri to Queenstown, tasting and scoring the dishes based on preparation and cooking, taste and texture, creativity, and promotion. The theme was to let the red meat be the hero on the plate.
The dishes featured on restaurant menus over five weeks in September and October, giving both judges and diners the opportunity to sample the delicious creations.
Judging coordinator Kerry Tyack says it was difficult to trim the entrants down to twelve finalists.
“As assessments came in it became clear that scores were very, very close. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the quality so high but it’s going to make choosing an overall winner very difficult for those of us charged with visiting the finalists to assess their dishes,” he said.
Silver Fern Farms general manager marketing, Sharon Angus, says the quality of this year’s entrants was outstanding. “We are very excited to work with such talented chefs,” she said. “They have commented that their entry dishes have been in hot demand with diners, and the Premier Selection Awards are a great opportunity for chefs to showcase their artistry and talent using the finest cuts of red meat.”
Diners throughout New Zealand can experience the finalist dishes until the end of March 2016.
Kerry Tyack and co-judge Tony Adcock will visit all finalist restaurants prior to Christmas to re-judge the dishes. Tyack has years of experience as a writer, critic and educator in the New Zealand food and drinks industry, and Adcock is one of New Zealand’s most experienced restaurateurs with over 40 years in the industry. Both bring a wealth of experience in judging national food competitions and are looking forward to working together and applying their experienced palates to judge the finalist dishes.
Winners will be announced at an event in Auckland in February 2016, where the five category winners will be revealed and the supreme winner awarded the title of Premier Master of Fine Cuisine.
The finalists and their dishes are:
Plume Restaurant, Matakana
Head chef Atesh Ram
Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Reserve beef eye fillet, pomme-anna potato, venison filo agar, red onion marmalade, port wine jus
Botswana Butchery, Auckland
Executive chef Stuart Rogan
Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Reserve beef eye fillet, braised short rib with parsley, mustard and horseradish crust, carrot puree, asparagus, whipped garlic, cep jus
Wine Chambers, Auckland
Head chef Daniel Ellis
Silver Fern Farm Venison loin on wild mushroom risotto, truffle paste, baby spinach, pine nuts, parmesan
Palate Restaurant, Hamilton
Head chef/owner Mat McLean
Assiette of Silver Fern Farms lamb with broad beans, artichoke, peppers and olives
Mills Reef Restaurant, Tauranga
Head Chef Attila Kovacs
Silver Fern Farms lamb rump, dahl croquette, chilled cucumber & mint terrine, tamarind jus
Salt on The Waterfront, New Plymouth
Head Chef Freddie Ponder
Herb crusted Silver Fern Farms lamb with smoked pepper and fennel
Pravda Café, Wellington
Head Chef Johannes van Kekem
Smoked Silver Fern Farms Venison back strap, cured in gin and juniper with venison sweetbreads, on a celeriac, apple and walnut salad with a blood orange dressing
Muse on Allen Restaurant & Bar, Wellington
Head Chef Samuel North
Seared Silver Fern Farms Venison Denver leg, braised venison croquette, beetroot, fennel
Freemans Dining Room, Christchurch
Head Chef/owner Nicholas Freeman
Roast Silver Fern Farms Venison loin, smoked pulled shank, potato gnocchi, celeriac, prosciutto & jus
Head Chef Gwen Harvie
Silver Fern Farms oven roasted venison on a warm puy lentil, heirloom tomato, truffle & rocket salad, thyme jus.
Wakatipu Grill at The Hilton, Queenstown
Sous chef Jaeyong Jang
SILERE alpine origin merino loin, smoked aubergine puree, gochujang glazed young vegetables, mint pea soil, quinoa crumbed house made labne, Madeira jus
Pitches Store, Ophir
Head chef Daniel Hill
Smoked eye fillet of Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Reserve Beef and green tea