2019 Eat.Taste.Central Judges and People's Choice Awards

Heritage flavours and stories to the fore as Eat.Taste.Central judges award best dishes in Central Otago.

The third edition of Central Otago’s regional food and wine promotion came to a close on Wednesday 30 October. Participants gathered at Highlands Motorsport Park to hear from the judging panel and to celebrate the end of the annual Food & Wine campaign. 65 dishes, events and experiences were on offer from across the Central Otago district during September and October.

This year’s supreme winner was ‘Panning the Nevis Valley’ from the Courthouse Café in Alexandra. Michael McHugh Editor and Chief from MiNDFOOD said “The standard of dishes that the panel judged over two days was incredibly high, and the back stories to many dishes were beautifully told and presented in a variety of forms.”

“The history of Central, the local flavours and quality of dining experience was exceptional. To hear the stories behind each dish was something special. I’m looking forward to what happens next year” said Mr McHugh.

“The wine matches were spot on. The dishes and matches would stand up to some pretty serious competition from restaurants across Australia and New Zealand,” he added.

The supreme dish ‘Panning the Nevis Valley’ was created by Bec Farrell from the Courthouse Café in Alexandra. The dish was a selection of morning dew mushrooms, smoked white bean puree, poached egg yolk, beef jus, beef fillet and a glimpse of gold. Served in a special sealed gold pan in reference to the mining history of the Nevis Valley.

Five individual category winners were announced and the quality of young chefs was noted by the judging panel. The panel included MiNDFOOD Food Director Michelle McHugh and MiNDFOOD Editor and Chief Michael McHugh, Giulio Sturla from Eat New Zealand and Reuben Levermore from Air New Zealand.

“Several of the chefs we met had come through or were currently studying at the local Otago Polytechnic Central Campus” said Mr McHugh. Mr McHugh encouraged these young chef’s to take Central’s flavours to the world but to return to Central Otago as the potential for the region and flavours was outstanding.

The judges presented the following awards:

Best Burger and Sandwich – Waipiata Country Hotel for the Hamilton’s Turkey Burger
Best Main Meal – Courthouse Café, Alexandra for ‘Panning the Nevis Valley’
Best Sweet & Dessert – Fusee Rouge, Cromwell for ‘Gold Cake’
Best Platter or Shared Board – Blacks Hotel
Best Pie – Black Rabbit Café, Bannockburn for their Black Rabbit Pie

Several highly commended awards were given out by the judges. Armando’s Kitchen, Cromwell received the Judges Choice Award for ‘best beverage match’ for their Saffron Risotto matched with a Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir.

The People’s Choice Awards winner was based on public voting throughout the campaign and saw several other venues receive awards for their dishes.

“In three years Eat.Taste.Central has truly highlighted Central Otago’s position as a premium food and wine destination and has celebrated the quality dishes our cafes, restaurants and wineries produce on a regular basis. As the event has grown we have been fortunate to receive local, regional and national support and I would like to give special thanks to MiNDFOOD, Go Rentals, Eat New Zealand and Air New Zealand for their contributions to this year’s campaign, and to our judges for their expertise. The campaign now has a solid foundation to grow in the coming years” said campaign manager Antz Longman from Tourism Central Otago.

Eat.Taste.Central Judges Awards

Burger and Sandwich Challenge
Highly Commended – Courthouse Café, Nevis Valley Brisket
Winner – Hamilton’s Turkey Burger, Waipiata Hotel

Pie Challenge

Highly Commended – Waipiata Hotel, Dykes Dam Pie
Winner - Black Rabbit Pie, Black Rabbit Café, Bannockburn

Platter & Shared Boards
Winner – Blacks Hotel, Blacks Best Ever Platter

Main Meal Challenge
Highly Commended – Armando’s Kitchen, Saffron Risotto
Winner – Courthouse Café, Panning the Nevis Valley

Sweet & Dessert Challenge
Highly Commended – Pitches Store, Gold Rush
Winner – Fusee Rouge Café, Gold Cake

Best Beverage Match
Armando’s Kitchen, Saffron Risotto with Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir

Judge’s Supreme Award for Best Overall Dish
Courthouse Café, Panning the Nevis Valley.

Eat.Taste.Central People’s Choice Awards

People’s Choice Awards - Tapas & Shared Plates
1st Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata The Waipiata Ploughman's Platter
Blacks Hotel, Ophir Blacks Best Ever Platter
Scott Base Vineyard, Cromwell Tastes of this land
Cloudy Bay Vineyard, Cromwell A Taste of the Shed
Wooing Tree, Cromwell The Blondie Platter

People’s Choice Awards - Sweet & Dessert Challenge
1st Equal Pitches Store, Ophir Gold Rush
1st Equal Hannah's Café, Oturehua An Afternoon Delight
Blacks Hotel, Ophir Naked Scotsman’s Apricot & Almond Cake
Fusee Rouge, Cromwell Gold Cake
Courthouse Café, Alexandra Not quite Grandad's Gooseberry Pie
Paulina’s Restaurant, Clyde Honey, Vanilla and Thyme Goats milk Panna Cotta

People’s Choice Awards - Pie Challenge
1st Equal Hannah's Café, Oturehua Settler's Steak & Kidney Pie
1st Equal The Moorings, Cromwell Flintstone Lamb Shoulder Pie
Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata Dykes Dam Pie
Black Rabbit Café, Bannockburn Black Rabbit Pie
Pitches Store, Ophir Beef & Cheese Pie

People’s Choice Awards - Main Meal Challenge
1st Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata Maniototo Merino
Courthouse Café, Alexandra Panning the Nevis Valley
The Moorings, Cromwell OP Steak (Ribeye on the bone)
Pitches Store, Ophir Peppered Stone Fruit Venison Loin
Armando’s, Cromwell Saffron Risotto

People’s Choice Awards - Burger & Sandwich Challenge
1st Blacks Hotel, Ophir Not 'mushroom' after you've eaten the beauty
Hannah's Café, Oturehua Engineers Corned Beef Sandwich
Fusee Rouge, Cromwell Hunter's Gold Venison & Damper
Courthouse Café, Alexandra Nevis Valley Brisket
Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata Hamilton's Turkey Burger
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