Chefs and farmers: together boosting the unique NZ food story

2017 Beef + Lamb NZ Ambassador Chefs (left to right) Alistair Forster, Scott Kennedy, Steve Beere and Shaun Clouston.

Chefs passionate about working with New Zealand beef and lamb are playing their part in showcasing New Zealand’s unique food story, through the nation’s longest running culinary award programme.

Applications have just opened for the 2018 Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards, the twenty-second year for the awards, which have been integral in fostering innovation and creativity among chefs with New Zealand beef and lamb.

In 2017, 158 restaurants were named award holders and with entries open this month there is hope to further grow that number this year, alongside the rise of successful, cutting edge restaurants. If restaurants meet the standard once accessed, they are awarded a gold plate which symbolises a high level of cookery, creativity and execution of their beef and lamb cuisine.

In addition to the award itself, each year five chefs who excel during the assessment period are selected as Ambassador Chefs by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ Inc), joining the ranks of eight lifetime Platinum Ambassador Chefs who together will work to pass on their skills to the wider industry.

One of Shaun Clouston’s NZ beef dishes on the Logan Brown menu.

Darren Wright, head chef/owner of Chillingworth Road in Christchurch and Beef and Lamb Platinum Ambassador Chef, has been involved with the Awards for many years and has seen first-hand how crucial they are to the industry.

“Ultimately, the Awards set a bench mark that we as chefs should be aiming for. It gives us something to strive to amongst our peers and is particularly exciting for those of us who are passionate about working with the product, it forces us all to raise the bar of the dishes we’re creating,” says Darren.

The Awards have provided opportunities to strengthen the relationships between the primary producers and restaurants at the coal face, both with the common goal of showcasing top quality New Zealand beef and lamb.

Shaun Clouston, head chef at Logan Brown in Wellington and Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chef, says being involved with the Awards has helped him in telling the pasture to plate story that is becoming more and more important.

“As well as wanting to constantly raise the bar in terms of the innovation and creativity of the beef and lamb dishes we’re cooking, being involved with the Awards has given me a deeper understanding of the product and where it comes from.

“At Logan Brown we’re very passionate about championing our producers, so much so that we have their faces on the wall in the restaurant. I think passing this story on to our customers is so important and is something they are wanting to hear about now more than ever – we have an incredible product and we certainly celebrate that with every dish that goes out the door,” says Shaun.

Applications are open for the 2018 Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards and close on 31 August 31. This will be followed by a rigorous assessment process carried out by culinary trained assessors who will scour the country and assess on all elements of the beef and lamb dishes.

Recipients of the 2018 Award will be announced in early December.

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