Flavours of New Zealand

By Lizzy Wood

Overcoming a number of logistical challenges, a small team led by Mark Rose recently took the very best of New Zealand cuisine to Manhattan, to be enjoyed by American diners.

Overcoming a number of logistical challenges, a small team led by Mark Rose recently took the very best of New Zealand cuisine to Manhattan, to be enjoyed by American diners.

It was his penchant for pâté de foie gras that led to one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of Mark Rose’s life. Stuck in New York and eager to sample this European delicacy, Rose, who is Chief Executive of The Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments in Queenstown, found himself at a tabke squeezed between some of the world’s culinary greats. Fuelled by their collective love of food and wine, an evening that began as a simple quest for a delicious dinner ended with Rose promising to bring the very best of New Zealand cuisine to America.

It was a daunting task, but one that Rose embraced, quickly recruiting the support of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise on his return home. Together with Ben Batterbury, Executive Chef at The Rees, the team drew up a menu that would showcase the very best of New Zealand produce, and Flavours of New Zealand was born.

“We set about trying to find out who already supplied food from New Zealand in America” Rose says. “Our aim was to draw attention to New Zealand ingredients. Most Americans already want to visit New Zealand, but they aren’t aware that our produce is already available to them at home.”

Despite logistical challenges, which involved transporting 20 kilograms of food through US customs and sourcing a venue for the event in New York, on May 19, 120 guests gathered at James Beard House to enjoy the inaugural Flavours of New Zealand.

Hosted by Paul Gestro, The Consul General of New Zealand, 120 diners were invited to either a four-course lunch or six-course dinner; each dish complemented by a matching wine from the cellars at The Rees.

“It was a daunting experience,” Rose confessed. “Using a kitchen we’d never used before; working with chefs we’d never met.” Indeed, having to rely on some locally sourced ingredients led Rose, who is also a trained chef, to blend sugar for an hour and a half to ensure the Strawberry Pavlova, which concluded both menus, was of the perfect consistency. “Ahead of the event, we worked twelve hour days for two days,” he said.

But despite the hard work, the quality and provenance of the ingredients, which included cured New Zealand salmon, Greenshell Mussels and Cervena Venison, shone through. And it was the knowledge of the origins of each ingredient – something that Rose believes is intrinsic to the New Zealand food culture – that surprised the American diners the most. “People’s perception of New Zealand cuisine is changing dramatically.” Rose says. “And the sustainability and history behind our produce is a really big draw card.”

Now back in New Zealand, Rose and his team are already hoping to continue the concept into a second year, and take Flavours of New Zealand to other international destinations.

www.therees.co.nz

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