It was a jam-packed two days for Cuisine Magazine editor Kelli Brett and UCOL’s Head Chef Lecturer Mark Smith as they determined the 2016 Plate of Origin Champion.
Over the course of 48 hours, both judges went to each of the ten Manawatu restaurants and tried every Plate of Origin dish. From salmon, to duck, to goats’ cheese and even a secret recipe quince puree, the judges were treated to a wide range of New Zealand’s premium produce. Each tasting was pre-arranged so the chefs were able to prepare the dishes specifically for the judges.
It’s a tough task but some one has to do it, and with the expansive careers Kelli and Mark have enjoyed, the job was left to very capable hands.
As Mark explained, the experience the two brought to the table meant they were very clear about what they were looking for throughout the judging process. “It was a pleasure working with Kelli, we got on very well and our judging sheets showed we were of the same opinion with each dish – which made the judging very easy at the business end of final decisions.”
The marking schedule was split into four distinct sections; portioning and presentation, composition and taste, good use of featured product, and the chefs use of innovation and originality, with composition and taste making up half of the possible 100 points.
Although judging is always a challenging job, Kelli enjoyed the experience, “the event was inspiring. Hearing the chefs all proudly talking about their growth because of Plate of Origin made it all worthwhile.”
The competition has provided an opportunity for an extremely competitive industry to work collaboratively, sharing ideas, techniques and products as well as developing skills and networks. Plate of Origin aims to start conversations around the value of premium products in our country. The competition wants to illustrate the importance of New Zealanders celebrating our unique provenance foods and brands, while also providing the public the opportunity to experience a range of fantastic cuisine.
The winners of Plate of Origin 2016 will be announced in the May edition of Cuisine Magazine.