The finalists for the 2018 PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Grand Final have been announced after a thorough, and at some points, tense semi-final judging session at AUT in Auckland on Saturday 26 May.
The top steaks now move on to the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Grand Final to be held at Fieldays on 13 June at Mystery Creek, in Hamilton, where they will be assessed one last time by a judging panel that includes Beef and Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chefs and the Ultimate Steak Connoisseur – Gretchen Binns.
Between them, the Grand Final judges will determine both the Grand Champion and Supreme Brand Champion.
Graham Hawkes, a stalwart of the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin competition and owner and Executive Chef of the renowned Paddington Arms in Invercargill, will be Head Judge on Grand Final day.
“Every year I am amazed at the level of quality of steaks we judge. The entries continue to get better and better and I can’t wait to have my taste buds tingling from all the tender steaks.
“As a chef I am constantly looking to source the best possible ingredients, so competitions like this set a benchmark for quality and helps to guide us on where to get our produce from. We forget sometimes how lucky we are in New Zealand to be able to cook with such amazing beef.”
Joining Graham will be some of New Zealand’s top chefs including: Andrew Clarke, Victoria Street Bistro, Hamilton; Mat McLean, Palate Restaurant, Hamilton and Harry Williams, Alpha Street Kitchen & Bar, Cambridge – with all four chef judges current or former Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chefs.
A fifth judge has also been added to the panel this year after Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for the nation’s Ultimate Steak Connoisseur. The title went to Hamilton-based Gretchen Binns after an inspired application video which set her apart from the rest of the herd.
The competition is open to all New Zealand beef farmers, retailers, wholesalers and foodservice suppliers. Farmer classes are open to New Zealand beef farmers and include six classes for the different breeds – European, British Angus, British Hereford, British Other, Crossbreed & Other and Lifestyle. This year there were 138 entries into the farmer classes. The brand competition had 128 entries, this competition includes two classes – Retail and Wholesale & Foodservice.
The competition is supported by the following processing plants; AFFCO, Alliance Group, Cabernet Foods, Harris Meats Cheviot, Land Meat NZ, Progressive Meats, Taylor Preston and Auckland Meat Processors / Wilson Hellaby.