Celebrating New Zealand's best in beef and lamb

by Noted in association with Beef + Lamb New Zealand / 05 December, 2017

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New Zealand lamb and beef is famed around the world, and here at home the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards celebrate the best of the best.

Now in its 22nd year the Excellence Awards recognise chefs and restaurants from all over New Zealand who dish up top quality lamb and beef dishes, created with passion.

Some 177 restaurants have achieved the accolade for 2018, each receiving a gold-rimmed presentation plate. 

During the judging process, each restaurant was evaluated by culinary trained assessors, who on two different occasions dined in and sampled both the beef and lamb dish from the menu.  

Five ambassador chefs have also been announced for 2018. They are: Freddie Ponder, Salt on The Waterfront, New Plymouth; Damon McGinniss, Emporium Eatery & Bar, Napier; Harry Williams, Alpha Street Kitchen & Bar, Cambridge; Kate Fay, Cibo, Parnell, Auckland; and Alistair Forster, Forsters Mahana, Nelson.

These ambassador chefs have been recognised for driving innovation and creativity within the New Zealand food service sector, using New Zealand beef and lamb. 

Freddie Ponder, head chef at Salt Restaurant, says he feels “privileged” to have been chosen as an ambassador for this year’s awards.  Trained in French cuisine, Freddie says he thinks of his kitchen as a playground and changes up the beef and lamb offerings on his restaurant’s degustation menu daily.  There by his side is his twin brother Richard, who works as a sous chef.

Damon McGinniss, executive chef at The Emporium Eatery and Bar, is a third-time ambassador for the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards. The Emporium is known for its unique offerings and locally-driven, seasonal menu such as 12-hour braised Hawke’s Bay lamb shoulder with smoked kumara, goat cheese and port.

Harry Williams, head chef at Alpha Street Kitchen & Bar in Cambridge, knows a thing or two about  meat! He began his 20-year culinary career as a butcher and his love of New Zealand meats prompted him to train as a chef. Harry says he draws on his Samoan heritage and love of Asian and European flavours in his cooking.

Kate Fay, joined famed Auckland restaurant Cibo in 1999, which also happened to be the year she was first named Beef and Lamb ambassador. A fusion pioneer, her cooking style has evolved through travel and she brings to the plate amazing tastes, colours, flavours and textures. Kate is passionate about using high-quality New Zealand ingredients at their seasonal best.

Also named ambassador for 2018 is Alistair Forster, owner of restaurant ‘Forsters Mahana’, set in the stunning Mahana Estates vineyard in Nelson. He began his career in AA-rosetted and Michelin-starred kitchens in the UK before moving to New Zealand in 2009.  Alistair prides himself on sourcing the finest and freshest produce available in New Zealand and delivering "unique culinary experiences to our guests not obtainable anywhere else.”

Hungry for more? Check out the full list list of restaurants awarded the Beef and Lamb Excellence Award for 2018. From the top of the north to the bottom of the south, there is sure to be one near you.

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