Press Release – Remarkables Park
Queenstown’s best amateur foodie claimed the inaugural Remarkables Market Chef ‘crown’ today following a nerve-wracking final at the Red Barn at Remarkables Park. March 31 2012
Queenstown’s Best Amateur Foodie Claims her Crown
Queenstown’s best amateur foodie claimed the inaugural Remarkables Market Chef ‘crown’ today following a nerve-wracking final at the Red Barn at Remarkables Park.
Following six heats to determine the two finalists, Lee Vandergeest and Naomi Lindsay went head to head over the elements.
The sizzling finale was judged by one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed chefs Peter Thornley, Executive Chef of Hilton Queenstown’s signature restaurant Wakatipu Grill.
And after a nail-biting cook-off watched by a large crowd attending the hugely popular market, he announced the winner to be Lee Vandergeest.
Ms Vandergeest took the title after whipping up an impressive entrée trio of bruschetta. The first a combination of courgette, mint, and feta, the second mushrooms and wholegrain mustard cream sauce, and the third a stunning mix of slow roasted tomato, asparagus and shaved parmesan. So impressive was this dish that it will appear on the Wakatipu Grill menu this week.
For main course Ms Vandergeest served up green Thai monk fish curry with a fresh Asian salad and scored 86 out of a potential 100.
Ms Lindsay kept local flavour alive with an entrée of stuffed aubergine filled with bread, tomato, garlic, onion and mushroom. She too dished up a main course of green Thai monk fish curry served in a marrow basket with a spicy Asian salsa. She notched up an impressive score of 84.
Throughout Saturday’s competition, the two amateur chefs were supported and encouraged by Mercure Queenstown Executive Chef Nick Westerman, acting as mentor chef.
Both professional chefs said they were hugely impressed with the standard of dishes produced by the competitors, in particular Chef Thornley who is a champion of local produce.
Chef Westerman said the standard was high.
“The contestants performed well in tough circumstances with a camp kitchen and under the eye of so many spectators. They had excellent produce and made good use of it in their stunning dishes.”
Winner Ms Vandergeest said the competition had been tougher than she thought but she was delighted to have come out on top.
“The market team made it a really fun experience and the chefs were incredibly supportive,” she said. “It was a great competition and great fun.”
Sherryn Smith Market Manager said the atmosphere was exciting and says a ‘huge thanks’ to the Remarkables Market producers who have supported the event in its inaugural season.
“It was a spectacular central Otago autumn day, and with so many visitors supporting the contestants the place just hummed We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters who made this such a successful event including Hilton and Mercure.”
Ingredients in the mystery boxes each week have been provided by Fresh Fish Brothers, Deep Creek Delicatessen, Zamora and Southland-based Kapuka Pork.
“The competition has been hugely popular with spectators who’ve enjoyed watching all the fun, offering plenty of support and celebrating the wonderful market products we have on offer here,” said Ms Smith.
Ms Vandergeest has walked away with $200 to spend at Remarkables Market, an Original Wine Tour for two people from Lance and Heather Benseman at Queenstown Wine Trail, and Waitiri Creek wine from Jason Moss.
Ms Lindsay received a cooking class with Dave Millar at Mediterranean Market thanks to Angela Imlach, a breakfast for two at Hamills Restaurant Remarkables Park courtesy of Tony Robertson and Waitiri Creek wine from Jason Moss.
The market’s annual scarf-making competition saw Rita Zimmat declared the winner, and the Peoples’ Choice Award went to Jessie Jane Baker.
Remarkables Market has one more week to go before it closes for winter. Next weekend’s Easter family fun filled market on April 7 will host an Easter bunny hunt before the market hibernates for winter and returns at Labour Weekend.