There were 13 finalists in the Regional Menu awards across the four categories, Best Burger or Sandwich, Best Pie, Best Main Meal and the inaugural, Premium Plate.
Three judges visited all the venues and tasted all of the finalists over two days. The finalist’s were judged on the flavour and taste of their dish, as well as their inclusion of local Central Otago produce.
The region’s best burger was awarded to the innovative team at Burger Afloat in Cromwell for their succulent Cardrona Baa Burger. The ingredients were fresh and well balanced, pairing sweet lamb with creamy, rich blue cheese and delicious tangy plum relish.
Next up was the best pie, and while the South Island is known for their hearty pies, this year’s winner was the delicate flavour-forward Rabbit Pithivier from Carrick Vineyard & Restaurant. The flaky pastry was cooked to perfection and the rabbit filling tasted of thyme from the Bannockburn hills.
With so many great contenders, Pitches took out the award for best main dish. The local Provenance Lamb Loin was served with honey carrots and minted peas, with jus and blackberries to cut through the sweetness of the lamb. The freeze dried honeycomb was an innovative touch, elevating the dish to an award-winning dish.
And finally, the inaugural Premium Plate award celebrating Central Otago’s world of flavour, went to The Cloudy Bay Shed, Cromwell for their Lamb Tartare. Also taking out Chef of the Year, The Cloudy Bay Shed chef Harry Bonning-Snook’s Lamb Tartare used local produce from every corner of the region and each of the seasons to sing the Central Otago story. The refinement, flavour and pairing displayed the best of Central Otago in a dish that was beautifully presented and worthy of the award.
Also part of E.TC are the Judges Awards for People and Businesses, the winners for 2022 are:
- Front of House: Paula Moore, Buffalo’s American Food Co. Cromwell.
- Young Talent: Ashleigh Cleland, Carrick Winery & Restaurant, Bannockburn.
- Chef / Cook: Harry Bonning-Snook, The Cloudy Bay Shed, Cromwell.
- Highly Commended: Susan Goodwin, Pitches Store, Ophir
- Sustainability & Innovation: Coffee & Burger Afloat, Cromwell
“Whether someone is visiting a cellar door, dining at a restaurant, country hotel or café, or visiting a farmers’ market, we want our locals and visitors to find local Central Otago flavours to tempt their tastebuds,” E.T.C campaign manager Antz Longman said. “Together we can really showcase our unique World of Flavour and support our local producers and growers at the same time.”