Wellington has a new rising star on the food scene, as the chef & owner of Muse on Allen takes out this year’s MiNDFOOD Wellington On a Plate Award.
The award recognises the creativity and skill of the region’s chefs, and the way in which they showcase local ingredients through the festival’s DINE Wellington programme.
Muse on Allen – an eatery open for less than a year – impressed the judges with every aspect of the dining experience.
“Their menu was a success from start to finish, with perfect wine matches to boot,” says award judge and Editor in Chief of MiNDFOOD magazine, Michael McHugh. “Each dish was beautifully presented and had multi levels of flavours and texture, giving the diner an exceptional experience.”
He says a pork pie has never tasted so good, hailing the chef’s light and crispy pastry and candy apple sauce.
Fellow judge Michael Meredith – executive chef from Auckland restaurant Meredith’s – agreed.
“As a menu it all worked. It built and showed great balance between flavour, technique and cooking. The experience blew me away, as did the Wairarapa lamb shank croquette with mint and green pea soup. As far as starters go, it’s a must-try.”
Muse on Allen’s 22-year-old head chef and owner, Samuel North, says his menu is all about using simple flavours and ingredients, but in new ways.
“For me it’s about using basic produce like shallots and peas and turning them into something unexpected, something with WOW factor.”
A big fan of Michael Meredith’s, Mr North said it was “nerve wracking” having him in his restaurant.
Having been part of the inaugural award-winning team at The White House Restaurant has stood Mr North in good stead as to what to expect from the win.
“My first thought after hearing we’d won was that there’s going to be a whole lot more people in the restaurant from now on… and we don’t hold that much stock! But in all seriousness, I’m just really happy for both the team and the restaurant.”
Visa Wellington On a Plate Co-director Sarah Meikle says other stand out dishes included Wakelin House’s dessert of apple parfait and cinnamon spring roll, and Martin Bosley’s Cloudy Bay clams – both receiving a perfect 10 out of 10.
“I’d recommend people get cracking if they want to try any of these menus – once word gets out these guys are going to book out incredibly quickly!”
DINE Wellington menus are all detailed on VisaWellingtonOnaPlate.com.