Cookery students at Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell campus are on tenterhooks as they put the finishing touches to beef and lamb dishes being served up this week to potentially their most important critics – the farmers and suppliers who grow and market the premium meat.
Working with 48 lamb rumps, 12kg of premium beef fillet and a carton of oxtail, teams of Level 3 and Level 4 students have spent the past month planning recipes and working on presentation for a dinner they’ll serve up on Thursday (October 14) to 50 members of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Central South Island Farmers Council.
The farmers and suppliers will hold their AGM at the polytechnic earlier in the day so will be ready for their dinner, which also takes the form of a competition for students.
Teams of three students will prepare dishes for individual tables with the winning team walking away with a cheque for $500; second and third placegetters winning $300 and $200 respectively.
Otago Poly chef lecturer Roydon Cullimore said the dinner was held for the first time last year and was such a success it was planned to be an annual event.
He will be joined by top chef Karen Marinkovic of Wanaka’s exclusive Riverrun Lodge and Ross Thompson of the Alliance Group as competition judges.
Mr Cullimore said each team had worked on recipes for their own lamb entrees, beef main dishes and desserts to serve to their table, and had been given relatively ‘free rein’ as to what they wanted to prepare.
“Each team has to do about eight covers and also prepare one plate of each dish for display, including a menu card and recipes, so the pressure’s on,” he said.
Mr Cullimore said the competition was an “outstanding” opportunity for young trainee chefs to work with and showcase such high quality premium product.
“Preparing these dishes for people in the industry is huge,” he said. “It’s great for them to get feedback from beef and lamb farmers and suppliers, and for the farmers in turn to see what we’re teaching our young chefs and that their produce is in good hands.”
Peter Macdougall, a member of the Farmers Council who will be attending the dinner, said they very much appreciated the tremendous support they were receiving from Cromwell Polytechnic and exporters the Alliance Group.
“These young chefs will be heading to all corners of the world, so it’s important they have had the opportunity to work with some of the highest quality meat produced in the world - New Zealand’s grass-fed beef and lamb,” he said.