Venison hero of the SFF Restaurant Awards plate

Aaron Ballantyne's triple award-winning dish, Silver Fern Farms venison, chestnut polenta, carelised celeriac, fig and wild mushroom tapenade
Aaron Ballantyne's triple award-winning dish, Silver Fern Farms venison, chestnut polenta, carelised celeriac, fig and wild mushroom tapenade

Venison was most definitely the hero of the Silver Fern Farms Restaurant Awards here in New Zealand this year, scooping the supreme award and appearing in four of the seven award-winning dishes this year.

Aaron Ballantyne, head chef and now partner at Hopgood’s & co restaurant in Nelson, received the supreme accolade as Chef of the Year, as well as winning the Best Venison Dish and the inaugural Restaurant of the Year categories for his dish. This was the first time a venison dish and a South Island chef and restaurant have won the awards since they began in 2013. Venison also featured in the winning dish for apprentice chef Patrick Pope-Moody from Wellington’s Chameleon Restaurant in the new Emerging Chef of the Year category.

You’ll be able to try all of the award-winning and finalist’s dishes at their restaurants around the country until the end of July.

This news was included in the latest bumper conference edition of Deer Industry News (June/July 2018) that should be dropping into deer farmers mailboxes this week.

Deer Industry News 90
Read all about it: The latest edition of Deer Industry News is packed with news from Conference and around the country.

The good outlook for venison and positive atmosphere of the most recent Deer Industry Conference is evident in the edition, which sees Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup noting a $4 margin for venison over lamb. Achievements on farm such as a lift in fawn survival and an improvement in average carcase weights of about 2kg must be credited to farmers, while the hard work being done in developing markets should also be acknowledged, he said.

He outlines the work done in the four platforms supporting the industry’s strategy for a “confident and growing deer industry”: premium positioning; market development and diversification; sustainably growing on-farm value; and achieving a cohesive and respected industry.

The magazine also includes comprehensive coverage of the conference sessions, including more detail on the venison marketing presentations from DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor and the marketing managers for each of the five New Zealand venison exporters, Silver Fern Farms, Alliance Group, First Light Foods, Duncan NZ Ltd and Mountain River Venison. Updates on the industry Primary Growth Partnership, Passion2Profit, velvet exports, the environment and on-farm matters are also covered.

Another article shows venison was also included in the itinerary for the first group of Antipocurean Series foodie ‘evangelists’ that visited the country in April as guests of Alliance Group. The chefs and foodwriters toured farms and and took part in a restaurant event at Chillingworth Road restaurant in Christchurch.

Exploring more added-value avenues for deer

In its bid to explore higher value, lower volume, Pāmu Farms New Zealand has been working with farming partners and food scientists on a deer milking initiative to explore production methods and possible new products. All the hard work paid off with a win for the team, led by Pāmu innovation manager Rob Ford, in the 2018 Fieldays Innovation Awards in the Grassroots Established category.

“Significant, world-first research and intellectual property has been developed from behind the farm-gate through to a finished Risk Management Programme (RMP)-approved product which Pāmu Foods can now use to assess market demand and price tolerance,” the judges noted.

You can get more of an in-depth read on New Zealand deer industry issues and news in the latest edition of  Deer Industry News magazine (June/July 2018).

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