MiNDFOOD Helps Crown the Best Dish in Central Otago


MiNDFOOD Helps Crown the Best Dish in Central Otago
The judges have eaten, and the best dish of Central Otago has been awarded, with a nod to the gold mining heritage of the area.

Congratulations to the supreme winner of the Eat.Taste.Central, Bec Farrell from the Courthouse Café in Alexandra on her winning dish ‘Panning the Nevis Valley’ (above). The supreme dish was a selection of morning dew mushrooms, smoked white bean puree, poached egg yolk, beef jus, beef fillet and was beautifully served in a special sealed gold pan in reference to the mining history of the Nevis Valley.

The third edition of Central Otago’s regional food and wine awards during the week included the judging of 65 dishes, as well as events and experiences across the Central Otago district.

Five individual category winners were announced and the quality of young chefs was noted by the judging panel. The panel included MiNDFOOD Food Director Michelle McHugh and MiNDFOOD Editor in Chief Michael McHugh, Giulio Sturla from Eat New Zealand and Reuben Levermore from Air New Zealand.

Michael McHugh Editor in Chief from MiNDFOOD said: “The standard of dishes that the panel judged over two days was incredibly high, and the backstories to many dishes were beautifully told and presented in a variety of forms.”

“The history of Central, the local flavours and quality of dining experience was exceptional. To hear the stories behind each dish was something special. I’m looking forward to what happens next year” said Mr McHugh.

Award-winning pie at the Black Rabbit in Bannockburn. Image: Rowan Schindler/The Central App


“The wine matches were spot on. The dishes and matches would stand up to some pretty serious competition from restaurants across Australia and New Zealand,” he added. “Several of the chefs we met had come through or were currently studying at the local Otago Polytechnic Central Campus,” said Mr McHugh. Mr McHugh encouraged these young chef’s to take Central’s flavours to the world but to return to Central Otago as the potential for the region and flavours was outstanding.

 And the winners are… 

The judges presented the following awards:

Best Burger and Sandwich – Waipiata Country Hotel for the Hamilton’s Turkey Burger

Best Main Meal – Courthouse Café, Alexandra for ‘Panning the Nevis Valley’

Best Sweet & Dessert – Fusee Rouge, Cromwell for ‘Gold Cake’

Best Platter or Shared Board – Blacks Hotel

Best Pie – Black Rabbit Café, Bannockburn for their Black Rabbit Pie

Several highly commended awards were given out by the judges. Armando’s Kitchen, Cromwell received the Judges Choice Award for ‘best beverage match’ for their Saffron Risotto matched with a Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir.

The People’s Choice Awards winner was based on public voting throughout the campaign and saw several other venues receive awards for their dishes.

“In three years Eat.Taste.Central has truly highlighted Central Otago’s position as a premium food and wine destination and has celebrated the quality dishes our cafes, restaurants and wineries produce on a regular basis. As the event has grown we have been fortunate to receive local, regional and national support and I would like to give special thanks to MiNDFOOD, Go Rentals, Eat New Zealand and Air New Zealand for their contributions to this year’s campaign, and to our judges for their expertise. The campaign now has a solid foundation to grow in the coming years” said campaign manager Antz Longman from Tourism Central Otago.


Editor in chief, Michael McHugh with the owners of the Courthouse Cafe, Alexandra. Image: Rowan Schindler/The Central App

Judges Awards

Burger and Sandwich Challenge

Highly Commended – Courthouse Café, Nevis Valley Brisket

Winner – Hamilton’s Turkey Burger, Waipiata Hotel

Pie Challenge

Highly Commended – Waipiata Hotel, Dykes Dam Pie

Winner – Black Rabbit Pie, Black Rabbit Café, Bannockburn 

Platter & Shared Boards

Winner – Blacks Hotel, Blacks Best Ever Platter

Main Meal

Highly Commended – Armando’s Kitchen, Saffron Risotto

Winner – Courthouse Café, Panning the Nevis Valley

Sweet & Dessert

Highly Commended – Pitches Store, Gold Rush

Winner – Fusee Rouge Café, Gold Cake

Best Match

Armando’s Kitchen, Saffron Risotto with Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir

Judge’s Supreme Award for Best Overall Dish

Courthouse Café, Panning the Nevis Valley.

People’s Choice Awards

People’s Choice Awards – Tapas & Shared Plates              

1st       Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata           The Waipiata Ploughman’s Platter

Runners Up: 

            Blacks Hotel, Ophir                               Blacks Best Ever Platter

            Scott Base Vineyard, Cromwell           Tastes of this land

            Cloudy Bay Vineyard, Cromwell         A Taste of the Shed

            Wooing Tree, Cromwell                       The Blondie Platter

People’s Choice Awards – Sweet & Dessert Challenge          

1st Equal         Pitches Store, Ophir                  Gold Rush

1st Equal         Hannah’s Café, Oturehua         An Afternoon Delight

 Runners Up: 

                        Blacks Hotel, Ophir                   Naked Scotsman’s Apricot & Almond Cake

                        Fusee Rouge, Cromwell            Gold Cake

                        Courthouse Café, Alexandra    Not quite Grandad’s Gooseberry Pie

                        Paulina’s Restaurant, Clyde     Honey, Vanilla and Thyme Goats milk Panna Cotta             

People’s Choice Awards – Pie Challenge       

1st Equal        Hannah’s Café, Oturehua          Settler’s Steak & Kidney Pie

1st Equal        The Moorings, Cromwell           Flintstone Lamb Shoulder Pie

 Runners Up: 

                        Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata         Dykes Dam Pie

                        Black Rabbit Café, Bannockburn            Black Rabbit Pie

                        Pitches Store, Ophir      Beef & Cheese Pie

People’s Choice Awards – Main Meal Challenge        

1st                   Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata            Maniototo Merino

 Runners Up: 

                        Courthouse Café, Alexandra      Panning the Nevis Valley

                        The Moorings, Cromwell           OP Steak (Ribeye on the bone)

                        Pitches Store, Ophir                    Peppered Stone Fruit Venison Loin

                        Armando’s, Cromwell                 Saffron Risotto

People’s Choice Awards – Burger & Sandwich Challenge

1st                  Blacks Hotel, Ophir                   Not ‘mushroom’ after you’ve eaten the beauty

 Runners Up: 

                       Hannah’s Café, Oturehua         Engineers Corned Beef Sandwich

                       Fusee Rouge, Cromwell            Hunter’s Gold Venison & Damper

                      Courthouse Café, Alexandra    Nevis Valley Brisket

                      Waipiata Country Hotel, Waipiata           Hamilton’s Turkey Burger


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