Top eateries win foodie festival challenge

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A scotch egg dish and pyramid-shaped pasta have both proven a hit during the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s annual foodie festival.

Pearl Kitchen’s award-winning scotch egg entry.

The winners of the Plates of Plenty Challenge have just been announced, with Papamoa café Pearl Kitchen receiving almost a third of all the public votes cast to claim the People’s Choice Award.

Inspired by a box of locally produced ingredients, their dish featured a bacon and maple scotch egg served with a sautéed mushroom medley, truffle mushroom foam, crispy potato, rocoto romesco, and a parmigiano and madeira jus.

Pearl Kitchen head chef Nigel Reid says they sold about 400 servings of the dish throughout the 10-day Flavours of Plenty Festival (24 March – 2 April).

“We really thought about the ingredients in the Plates of Plenty Challenge box and wanted to represent them well. Scotch egg was perfect for our breakfast/lunch demographic – and who doesn’t love a scotch egg!”

Meanwhile, Alma Eatery in Ōmokoroa caught the attention of the Plates of Plenty Challenge expert panel, earning the Judge’s Choice Award for its fagottini con funghi e tartufo.

lma Eatery head chef and co-owner Marco Velickovic with the Judge’s Choice Award.

Their dish, featuring pyramid-shaped pasta stuffed with mushrooms, Grana Padano cheese, ricotta, and herbs, served with truffle butter consisting of roasted hazelnuts, sliced truffle, pekepeke-kiore, and truffle salt, made one judge note: “It was dancing on my palate.”
Alma Eatery co-owner and head chef, Marco Velickovic, says his whole team helped perfect the dish before its release.

The pyramid-shaped pasta dish, by Alma Eatery, caught the judges’ attention.

“It means a lot that people within the hospitality sector recognise what we’re doing. The dish sold out most days [during the festival]. We’re even planning to add the dish to our menu, going forward.”

It’s the second year that the culinary challenge has been held during the Flavours of Plenty Festival, which is organised by Tourism Bay of Plenty.

Each of the 12 Plates of Plenty Challenge entrants received a box containing mushrooms, sausages, chocolate hazelnut butter, truffle salt, limoncello, chillies, and eggs, and were tasked with using at least three of the items to create a bespoke dish for the festival.

Pearl Kitchen and Alma Eatery received vouchers donated by Southern Hospitality, worth $400 and $600 respectively, for their award-winning efforts.

Oscar Nathan, general manager at Tourism Bay of Plenty, says the challenge is designed to establish and encourage beneficial partnerships between the region’s innovative foodie producers and respected hospitality businesses.

“We were impressed with the creativity and culinary skills displayed by all 12 of the eateries that entered, and it was great to garner the support of the seven local producers who enthusiastically submitted their best ingredients during the challenge.

“It’s been exciting to see foodie producers, hospitality venues, tour operators, and event organisers coming together during our first two annual festivals to showcase our region’s spectacular range of edible offerings. We’re very keen to ensure that the Coastal Bay of Plenty earns its rightful place on the national and international culinary tourism scene,” he says.

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