Back for its fourth year Waikato’s unique Matariki Dish Challenge dares local chefs sharpen their skills and knowledge as they compete for the coveted prizes.

2017s challenge saw 25 eateries enter with dishes that tantalised the taste buds or simply broadened dinners knowledge of Matariki and local produce.  Dishes included; Steamed Tuatua, Kawakawa and Fennel Broth with Pickled Pikopiko, Paua and Kina Brulee with Sea-grape and Horopito Salad, Pickled Bush Mushrooms, Crayfish Oil and Ratatouille Vegetables with Chilli Koura, Fennel with Mussels and Paua wrapped in Seaweed.

Running from the 9th June to 14th of July, eateries around the Waikato will put their best foot (or waewae) forward creating a dish that pays homage to Matariki and celebrates local ingredients.  Entrants are mystery judged and if they make the cut revisited by the head judge to determine the overall winners in both the Café and Restaurant categories.

Yesterday a hui at Wintec School of Hospitality had chefs hear from local Kaumatua on the significance and history of Matariki, Chef Tutor Shannon Katipa on translating a story into food and the need to respect the ingredients.  Kate Riddell from local PR firm HMC then highlighted value and how to make the most of entering such challenges.

“One of the goals of the challenge” says event organiser Vicki Ravlich-Horan “is to help local food businesses grow and so the challenge is designed to upskill and test the whole team, not just the kitchen.”  In addition to the dish the eateries are judged on service, staff knowledge and promotion of the challenge.

With several bright stars and many more rising stars in the Waikato hospitality scene this year’s challenge is pitted to be the biggest and best yet.

The winners will be announced at the Gala Prizegiving event help at the University of Waikato on Sunday the 29th July.

2017 Winners –

Restaurant Category;
Palate – Papatuanuku ki Tangaroa ma te Awa (From the Land to the Sea through the River)

Head judge Kerry Tyack said “the dish was artfully presented with expert use of colour….  Flavour filled and a dish that I would readily order again.”

Finalists – Crudo and Agenda

Café Category;
Gather Foodhouse – Hopu I te whetu hinga (Catch a falling star)

Head Judge Charles Royal said “An excellent knowledge of the food not to mention pronunciation.  The passion shows in the Kai!”

Finalist – Prof’s @ Woodlands

Outstanding Service Award;
Gather Foodhouse

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