Star-inspired menu wins restaurant challenge


A menu inspired by the stars was the winner of a new food challenge in the Bay of Plenty

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A menu inspired by the stars was the winner of a new food challenge in the Bay of Plenty

A unique star-inspired menu won first prize in an inaugural Matariki culinary competition.

Local restaurants participated for five weeks in The Coastal Bay of Plenty’s Matariki Dish Challenge, which asked restaurants in Tauranga, Rotorua and the wider Bay of Plenty region to create dishes using local food products to highlight Matariki.

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The winning menu, from the Trading Post French Bistro in Paengaroa, included sourdough bread, organic oysters, smoked eel, kumara and horopito gnocchi, with a poached apple dessert. Each dish is named after a star of the annual Matariki group.

Trading Post owner and head chef Jordan Baudeche created the menu with his partner Nina. The couple researched the Matariki tradition and used local seasonal produce to “fuse indigenous flavors with French techniques”, he said.

Baudeche said the menu generated a lot of interest from diners.

“It really created conversations and brought people together,” he said.

Diners loved Fife Lane's Pāua Toterini Karengo dish with pāua tortellini, oyster sauce, seaweed and watercress.

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Diners loved Fife Lane’s Pāua Toterini Karengo dish with pāua tortellini, oyster sauce, seaweed and watercress.

Restaurant owners also had their say by voting for their favorite dish.

The People’s Choice Award went to Fife Lane in Mount Maunganui for its Pāua Toterini Karengo dish, consisting of pāua tortellini with oyster, seaweed and watercress sauce.

Fife Lane owner Kat Dippie said her customers were really keen to try something different.

The dish was brought up to date by chef Robbie Webber.

“We wanted to create something really appealing on the plate and a way to present the pāua in its original form,” he said.

Fife Lane's Dan Lockhart, owner Kat Dippie and chef Robbie Webster won the people's choice award

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Fife Lane’s Dan Lockhart, owner Kat Dippie and chef Robbie Webster won the people’s choice award

Tourism Bay of Plenty Tumuaki Oscar Nathan said the high caliber of entries this year, across 18 restaurants, helped elevate the importance of Matariki and the value of good kai as New Zealand celebrated its first landmark public holiday heavenly occasion.

Nathan said the competition was one of many initiatives to promote food and culinary flair in the Bay of Plenty to a wider foodie audience, both nationally and internationally.

“Our hospitality and tourism sectors have had a tough time this year, so it’s great to be able to support each other in this way,” Nathan said.

Local food producers also reaped the benefits when their ingredients were featured on menus during the challenge.

Matariki Dish Challenge organizer and local foodie Vicki Ravlich-Horan said she was thrilled with the entries.

“As New Zealand develops our unique food, storytelling and provenance are key,” she said.


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