Pony winners in Matariki Dish Challenge

Pony’s Matt Cooper, pictured with their new Matariki Dish award.

The fourth annual Matariki Dish Challenge took place over June 9 to July 14 with winners announced last week.

The event, organised by Waikato Food Inc, sees restaurants and cafes around the region enter their own dish creation centred around native New Zealand foods and local produce. Over 20 eateries entered this year from Hamilton, Raglan, Te Awamutu, Matamata and Cambridge.

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

Duke St eatery Pony took out the winning title in the restaurant category of this year’s challenge, with judges commenting them on their “absolutely gorgeous looking” dish. It included a richly flavoured puree of harore mushrooms, fried shiitake and field mushrooms, creamy Over the Moon goat curd, crisps of Jerusalem artichoke for texture and nuttiness, a “delightful” mushroom foam, house fermented black garlic and kumara gnocchi crusted with Horopito.

“An excellent touch for the chef Matt Cooper to bring out the dish and talk through each of the components and where they all came from,” judges said. “He did this with all the other customers that ordered the dish. A great introduction.”

The full list of winners is available at waikatofoodinc.com/matariki-dish-challenge/.

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