Hospitality Business Magazine

Where the Wild Things Are

wildfoodThe call for the wild has been made – registration for the 17th annual Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge is open and the judges are looking for some wild ideas.

New Zealand’s longest-running food challenge is all about pushing chefs to push palates and serve up a feast of flavours to their diners. Starting with a Monteith’s beer or cider, entrants build a dish around the drink’s taste profile, drawing on local wild ingredients to shape a meal that is inspired, unique and tasty.

“After 17 years of the Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge you’d have thought we’ve seen it all, but each and every year the dishes and pairing get more adventurous,” head judge Kerry Tyack said.

“The Monteith’s range provides a flavourable companion for all kinds of game or wild foods – venison, duck, paua, boar are all covered. Both beer and cider deliver a variety of flavours that allow for multiple pairing options so there’s always something new to try.”

The winning dish not only snares the successful outlet a $15,000 prize and the crown of Monteith’s Wild Food Champion 2014, but also draws the crowds. Last year more than 5000 wild food dishes were sold over the four-week competition period across the country.

To be eligible for entry, each dish must feature components sourced from the wildest local ingredients available, be presented in a wild way, or use readily available wild ingredients such as venison or shellfish.

At least two of the primary ingredients in the dish must also be sourced from within 100km of the outlet, providing a distinct local bent and bringing out the flavour of the chosen Monteith’s beer or cider match.

During the course of the challenge, a panel of expert judges will travel the country in pursuit of the best entries. Head judge, Kerry Tyack, says that he will be looking for a wild food and Monteith’s pairing that tantalizes the tastebuds and pushes food frontiers.

“Judges will this year be looking for the clever use of local produce because that’s what’s on trend in restaurants, cafes and bars around the country . That and the perfect pairing – a genuine partnership between the dish and Monteith’s beer or cider that is innovative, harmonious and memorable.”

To celebrate those who truly get behind the competition, Monteith’s have this year created six Spirit of Monteith’s Beer & Wild Food Challenge awards. These acknowledge entrants who go the extra mile to bring the Challenge experience to life within their establishment, with each winner collecting a $2000 cash prize.