Local “hero” products paired with beautifully lean venison make up what Carrick Restaurant head chef Gwen Harvie hopes will be a winning entry for the second year running.
Harvie was a finalist in the last year’s Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards and has entered again for the 2015 edition of the awards.
The awards, now in their third year, challenge New Zealand’s best chefs to showcase their creativity and artistry with red meat in order to win five category awards, and the supreme award of Premier Master of Fine Cuisine.
Sixty-two of New Zealand’s top chefs from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island are set to show their skills with red meat as they vie for a prestigious award.
Harvie last year produced a beef trio – carpaccio of beef with pickled mushrooms and truffle aioli, beef croquettes, and beef broth – but this year has chosen venison.
“Last year I was focussed on using some of the things you see in the pasture – it had some clover and kale micro greens on top – it was tying in the plate to pasture. This year with my venison dish I have tried to focus on using local ingredients, things that are particular to this area – we have got wild thyme all over the hills, so I have incorporated that into the dish. We have started growing truffles down here so they are through the dish and it’s venison loin which is nicely cut and full of flavour, and complements our wines.”
The dish will see Silver Fern Farms oven roasted venison on a warm puy lentil, heirloom tomato, truffle & rocket salad with a thyme jus.
Harvie says it is a perfect dish for summer and, if last year’s event was anything to go by, she expects plenty of people through the doors of the Bannockburn, Central Otago restaurant to try the dish.
“It is a nice lean product. The competition mainly runs over summertime so using a lean, quick cooking cut suits summer. It is on a lentil, rocket and tomato salad so venison, because it has very little fat, suits salads. It has a nice richness of flavour as well.”
Harvie said she used the Silver Fern Farms products regularly in the restaurant.
“I come from a farming background so, for me, promoting red meat is natural. I think it is something that perhaps in the past New Zealand hasn’t well enough promoted the fact that ours is grass-fed. It is obviously a lot better for you and growing up on a farm it was a way of life.”
Harvie grew up in the hills of Otago on a beef and sheep farm and spent her early career in Christchurch and Queenstown before heading to the UK where she worked through the ranks to Junior sous chef at the Michelin starred restaurant Aubergine in London.
On returning to New Zealand Gwen worked in Wellington briefly before returning to Queenstown taking head chef position at The Bunker and then at Eichardts Hotel before taking up the head chef position at Carrick.