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Wellington Chef Wins Top Prize At Kapiti Chef Collection

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Laurent Loudeac
Laurent Loudeac

Laurent Loudeac, executive chef at Wellington's Hippopotamus Restaurant, was named the Supreme Winner of the 2009 Kapiti Chef Collection after serving his unique dish using Kapiti's Kikorangi cheese at an exclusive dinner attended by illustrious New Zealanders.

Eight chef finalists from around New Zealand presented their inspirational dishes to a table of equally unique New Zealanders including poet Sam Hunt, actress Robyn Malcolm, definitive broadcaster Paul Holmes, award-winning author Emily Perkins, stage and screen legends Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Michael Hurst, influential winemaker Rod McDonald and former All Black Josh Kronfeld.

The Kapiti Collection challenged more than 100 chefs from Cape Reinga to the Bluff to create a dish that celebrates the contribution Kapiti has made to our dining scene. The creations had to be New Zealand originals, hero Kapiti Cheese and use local products. Run in conjunction with Cuisine magazine, notable food expert Kerry Tyack convened a judging team of renowned chefs and food writers to assess the creations from around the country.

While on their travels, the judges made special note of Laurent Loudeac's creation - Kikorangi tortellini on creamed leek, micro salad and crispy parma ham shaving.

The dish, Laurent says, was inspired by those traditional flavours that combine so well with Kapiti's Kikorangi - a cheese he describes as 'easily one of the best New Zealand blue cheeses available'.

"The creamed leek complements the Kikorangi while walnut, a traditional accompaniment to blue cheese, adds real palate interest. A fruity freshness is provided by the micro salad, apple and lemon juice and the crisp Parma ham introduces a textural contrast. Finally, the walnut foam adds a bit of fun by lightening the dish and keeping it moist until the last morsel," says Laurent.

Kerry Tyack noted the time, care and enthusiasm that all the chefs had put into the challenge, which he says made it difficult to select the finalists and indeed the winner.

"These chefs embraced the nature of the challenge, bringing creativity and flair to the table. The finalists included chefs from regional restaurants, supporting our view that creating great food is not the prerogative of big city restaurants.

"This is the sign of a maturing cooking scene and it is extremely encouraging to see our chefs taking the opportunity to give cheese a new focus and creating highly adventurous cuisine in the process" says Tyack.

Kapiti Senior Brand Manager Gina Klarwill said the quality of the entries and the chefs' enthusiasm was well beyond her expectations, and thinks the final eight dishes reflect a snapshot of New Zealand cuisine at present.

"Kapiti has been part of New Zealand's culinary scene for 25 years - we've grown up together. We're proud of this rich heritage and association with the country's finest chefs. It's been a pleasure to offer these chefs the chance to showcase their talents," says Gina.

Every Kapiti cheese is a New Zealand original created by Kapiti's expert cheese-makers, to represent a unique piece of New Zealand - the perfect inspiration for the Kapiti Collection.

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