Plating up our latest stories

Written by Lisa Moloney on December 4th, 2015


On Tuesday evening, Beef and Lamb New Zealand celebrated a culinary milestone with the announcement of the 20th annual Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards and Ambassador Chefs.  For twenty years, the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards have acknowledged exceptional chefs and restaurants passionate about food and that consistently serve an impeccable standard of beef and lamb cuisine. The Awards are held in high regard by the industry and are testimony to the timelessness of beef and lamb dishes.

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An exclusive group of food writers, media and special guests all gathered at the James Kitchen in Parnell and were no doubt suitably impressed to witness eleven of New Zealand’s top chefs working side by side to create some stunning beef and lamb dishes.


As guests arrived they were greeted by our lifetime Platinum Ambassadors (chefs who have been announced as Ambassadors more than 4 times) who had prepared some delicious canapés including the most miniature version of steak, eggs and chips I have ever seen. Cleverly composed by Stephen Barry of Mount Bistro in Mt. Maunganui, this delicate little morsel was visually stunning and equally as tasty.


Once seated in the elegantly decorated dining room, guests were guided through a five course degustation prepared by our newly announced 2016 Ambassador Chefs.  Each chef had prepared their signature beef or lamb dish and each course was superbly matched to a Church Road McDonald Series wine.

The first course was presented by first time Ambassador Chef, Andrew Clarke from Victoria Street Bistro in Hamilton.  Andrew’s dish was a compressed lamb belly and roasted loin, pickled butternut, spicy macadamia relish, pumpkin puree, white anchovy, black pepper caramel, olive powder and jus.  This dish had great depth of flavour and texture from the tender lamb loin to the rich lamb belly with a slight crisp on the outside.  The dish was balanced with a clean saltiness of anchovy and olive, and the macadamia relish and pepper caramel added a subtle spice.

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Second course was another lamb dish by Andi Bozhiqi from Millhouse Restaurant at Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown who served lamb rack and braised shoulder, pinenut emulsion, goat cheese fritters, green beans, potato foam and fig.  Andi is a forager and firm believer in provenance.  He uses local Merino lamb which has incredible flavour from the wild thyme and other herbs eaten by the sheep in the hills around Arrowtown.

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Third course was down to Reon Hobson, two-time Ambassador and head chef of Pescatore at The George in Christchurch.  Reon plated up a beef dish of Angus fillet, peppered oxtail with sourdough puree.  Reon used a prime and secondary cut - the fillet showcased the quality of the beef and the oxtail added an underlining sweetness and spice with the pepper paste.

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The next course was presented by third time Ambassador Chef, Shaun Clouston of Logan Brown in Wellington.  Shaun’s dish was stout braised beef cheeks, rare beef, local lentils and butternut.  This combination of rare grilled grass-fed bavette and stout braised grain-fed beef cheek provided amazing flavour. With the addition of locally sourced garnishes this was a simple but flavour-packed dish.

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The fifth and final course was served by Scott Kennedy of Nero Restaurant in Palmerston North.  Scott is a third time Ambassador for Beef + Lamb New Zealand and takes inspiration from classic and traditional dishes by breaking the components down and adding his own twist.  His dish was aged fillet with a slow cooked rich glazed oyster blade steak, caramelised onions, parsley and garlic puree, Shiitake mushrooms, corned beef and red wine jus.  Part of this dish was inspired from his recent trip to Italy where he was served oyster blade steak which had been poached in olive oil, garlic and herbs for three hours.  Scott said it was truly amazing and had been on the local restaurant’s menu for over 80 years.  The corned beef added texture to his dish, the puree and Shiitake mushroom provided more earthy flavours and the red wine jus pulled the whole dish together. Delicious!

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The evening was a wonderful celebration of these very talented chefs who prepare their dishes with creativity, skill and passion.  It was also a celebration of the best beef and lamb in the world that we are lucky enough to produce here in New Zealand.

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Chefs left to right: Shaun Clouston - Logan Brown, Scott Kennedy - Nero, Andrew Clarke - Victoria Street Bistro, Reon Hobson - Pescatore, Rex Morgan (Platinum Ambassador Chef) - Boulcott Street Bistro, Michael Coughlin (Platinum Ambassador) - Olivers at the Victoria Store, Andi Bozhiqi - Millhouse Restaurant at Millbrook Resort.


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