New Zealand venison featured in a British competition for young chefs in April.
The winner of the 2012 Air NZ UK-NZ Culinary Challenge is 20-year-old Louisa Matthews, a young chef from Eton College in Windsor. She fought off tough competition from eight other finalists in a cook-off at Westminster Kingsway College in London to win the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to New Zealand on a three-week study trip experiencing the country’s top restaurants, visiting award-winning vineyards and suppliers, with the option of one week to explore the country.
Showcasing New Zealand venison, manuka honey and Bramley apples, Louisa’s award-winning menu comprised ‘perfectly seasoned and richly flavoured’ roast seabass with aioli crab croquette, mussel stew and winter vegetables, roast loin of venison, venison tortellini and Foie Gras foam; and a steamed manuka honey sponge, caramelised Bramley apple ice-cream and nettle beignet.
The UK-NZ Culinary Challenge was founded by well known Kiwi chef Peter Gordon, owner/chef of Providores and Tapa Room in London. Gordon commented that the eight finalists – all chosen from high calibre entries – “did themselves proud. Dishes were very creative with a good use of secondary cuts of venison from the rib cooked on the bone through to liver and kidneys, along with other interesting ingredients such as foraged foods and pulses. In the kitchen, the amount of gadgetary was a far cry from the days of young chefs simply using a knife and pan, with molecular gastronomy making an appearance in the form of pea jellies through to foams.
“The qualty of the entries is a fantastic indication of how highly respected the competition is amongst tutors and employers around the UK in regards to the advancement of their junior staff and students.”
Steve Mulcahy, vice-president of competition organiser the British Craft Guild of Chefs, commented that he had no doubt Louisa will be a great ambassador for the competition when she travels to New Zealand to take up this once in a lifetime prize.
The other finalists were: Laura Daniels (Manchester College; Trung Nguyen (Westminster Kinsway College); Luke Orwin (Pan Heggarty Restaurant, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne); Joshua Saunders (Worcester College of Technology); Thomas Sturrock (Kopapa Restaurant, London).
Judges included: Peter Gordon, chef/proprieter The Providores and Tapa Room; David Mulcahy, culinary director Sodexco and Ireland; Anna Hansen, chef/proprieter The Modern Pantry; Sophie Wright, previous winner of the challenge and celebrity chef; and Cristian Hossack, head chef Providores and Tapa Room.
The UK-NZ Culinary Challenge is generously sponsored by Air New Zealand, Dudson, Bleeding Heart Restaurant, Trinity Hill Wines, Providores & Tapa Room, New Zealand Venison, New Zealand Society, Bramley Apples, Comvita and NZ Trade & Enterprise.