New Zealand's leading meat maestros have officially been recognised as a cut above the rest.
After sampling and savouring close to 70 dishes from leading chefs around the country, the Silver Fern Farms Restaurant Awards 2018 judging panel have now selected their supreme winner.
Aaron Ballantyne, Head Chef at Hopgood's & Co. in Nelson took out this year's title of Chef of the Year at last week's events evening in Auckland. Aaron will be recognised as the first South Island supreme winner since the Awards began in 2013.
The awards recognise creativity and artistry of Kiwi chefs at the very top of their game, showcasing their craft and expertise while using Silver Fern Farms' natural grass-fed red meat.
Using premium cuts of Silver Fern Farms beef, lamb or venison, local chefs were invited to put forth their own interpretation of what makes a truly unique meat dish. This year's entries further reinforce that there is a growing demand among discerning diners for dishes that deliver on the expectation of untouched natural, authentic and delicious food.
Chef Aaron’s flavoursome interpretation also won the Best Venison Dish category.
The dish of Silver Fern Farms venison, chestnut polenta, caramelised celeriac, fig and wild mushroom tapenade was described by the judges as "total harmony on a plate". The generous portion of tenderloin and a crumbed slow-cooked neck croquette were cooked to perfection and the venison shone as the hero of the dish.
To complete the hat trick, Hopgood's & Co was named this year's inaugural Silver Fern Farms Restaurant of the Year Award winner.
Paul Limacher, Chef de Cuisine at Wellington's Chameleon Restaurant at the InterContinental, won the award for Best Beef Dish for a second year running, while five-time finalist and owner of Palate Restaurant in Hamilton, head chef Mat McLean, created the Best Lamb Dish. Further north, the title of Best Regional Restaurant went to Logan Coath at Archive Bar & Bistro at Mudbrick Vineyard, Waiheke Island.
The Silver Fern Farms Emerging Chef of the Year award went to up-and-comer, Patrick Pope-Moody, apprentice chef at Wellington's Chameleon Restaurant. His dish, Silver Fern Farms venison short loin, fig, cauliflower and goat curd puree, beetroot, beet kraut and beetroot tile with sorrel, proved faultless, delivered with perfectly balanced flavours.
This award strives to recognise and foster new talent and the hard work that goes into becoming a great chef. Patrick will receive a $5,000 financial scholarship to assist with further developing his career.
THE FULL LINE-UP OF SILVER FERN FARMS RESTAURANT AWARDS WINNERS
Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Best Venison
Head Chef: Aaron Ballantyne, Hopgood’s & Co, Nelson.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms venison, chestnut polenta, caramelised celeriac, fig and wild mushroom tapenade.
Chef de Cuisine: Paul Limacher, Chameleon Restaurant, InterContinental Wellington.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef tenderloin, green pea crust, black garlic mash, carrot pickle, shiitake, edamame salad and umami butter.
Head Chef/owner: Mat McLean, Palate Restaurant, Hamilton.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms lamb cutlets, lamb shank moussaka ravioli, eggplant puree, black garlic with minted hollandaise.
Best Regional Restaurant
Head Chef: Logan Coath, Archive Bar & Bistro, Mudbrick Vineyard, Waiheke Island.
The dish: Slow Cooked Silver Fern Farms lamb shoulder, carrot, sunflower tahini, pomegranate, burnt red cabbage and dukkah.
Emerging Chef of the Year
Apprentice Chef: Patrick (Paddy) Pope-Moody, Chameleon Restaurant, InterContinental Wellington.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms venison short loin, fig, cauliflower and goat curd puree, beetroot, beet kraut, beetroot tile with sorrel.
Additional finalists and their dishes are:
Ashish Bhatnagar, White + Wong’s, Auckland.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms BBQ beef short ribs, cauliflower puree, xo wild mushrooms, charred spring onion, garlic shoots, white radish kimchi, whipped garlics, tendon crisps.
Chef de Cuisine: Andrew Clarke, Victoria Street Bistro, Hamilton.
The dish: Pecan Smoked Silver Fern beef cheek crispy sweetbreads, tendon, sweetcorn, cress and pickles.
Head chef: Anthony Lawler, Mills Reef Winery, Tauranga.
The dish: Silver Fern venison strip-loin Textures of beets, horseradish yoghurt, herbed goats curd.
Head chef: Andrew May, Amayjen – The Restaurant, Feilding.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms tenderloin of venison, burnt onion ash, venison shank & potato pie, roasted beetroots, shallot petals, cranberry gel, venison jus.
Head chef: William Hobby, Pravda Café and Grill, Wellington.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms lamb, carrot puree, black garlic, citrus and jus.
Head chef: Punit D’Souza, Noble Rot, Wellington.
The dish: Silver Fern Farm venison Denver Leg, osso bucco, parsnip, pear, vanilla onions, preserved stone-fruit, confit carrot.
Head chef: James Waite, Olivers Victoria Store Clyde, Central Otago.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms roast lamb rump, lamb shoulder spring roll, bok choy, radish, ginger, miso caramel and shitake jus.
Executive chef: Greg Piner, Vault 21, Dunedin.
The dish: Lime leaf infused sticky Silver Fern Farms Reserve short ribs: textures of mandarin, wasabi potato cake, crispy sea kelp, cashew and ginger slaw.
The other Emerging Chef finalist was:
Sous Chef: Alexis Vienot,180 degrees at the Copthorne, Wellington.
The dish: Silver Fern Farms braised lamb shoulder cigar lamb sweetbread and leek bonbon, organic milk dried lactose, cauliflower and almond, spiced jam.
To learn more about the Silver Fern Farms Restaurant Awards, visit their website here.