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Regional towns dominate Café of the Year competition

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Regional towns dominate Café of the Year competition

Creative cuisine and home-grown hospitality are the winners in this year’s NZ Café of the Year competition with the top 15 finalists coming from regional New Zealand.

With around 400 cafés involved in the nationwide competition and more than 20,000 public votes, it is Warkworth, Timaru, Te Kuiti, Napier, Greymouth and Gore which host some of the country’s most popular small eateries.

In its inaugural year, the NZ Café of the Year competition pits cafés from the length and breadth of the country against each other.

The top three café finalists in the five regions are:

Upper North Island: Chocolate Brown (Warkworth), Urban Soul (Botany, Auckland) and Paper Moon (Mairangi Bay, Auckland). Central North Island: Bosco Café (Te Kuiti), Capers Café (Rotorua) and Corogate Café (Thames).

Lower North Island: Mega Café (Masterton), Café Ahuriri (Napier) and Macfarlanes Café (Inglewood)

Upper South Island: Maggies Kitchen (Greymouth), Artisan by Rangiora Bakery (Rangiora) and Luciano Espresso Bar (Christchurch).

Lower South Island: The Roost Cafe (Oamaru), Jagz of Village Green (Invercargill) and The Green Room Café (Gore).

An expert team of judges, organised by the Restaurant Association of NZ, will now begin the judging process and select the overall winner.

The winning café claims the title of NZ Café of the Year 2012 and will feature on the popular primetime TV segment Food in a Minute.

Screening across two weeks, the Food in a Minute episodes will be filmed on-site at the winning café and will showcase their award-winning beans and bacon dish, the creation of which was one of the key entry criteria for the competition.

In addition, the winning café has its recipe emailed to the Food in a Minute database of more than 100,000 fans. The dish also features on recipe cards in-store at supermarkets. It also appears on the Food in a Minute and Café of the Year websites and Facebook pages.

Some rather creative bacon and bean dishes are among the finalists including Warkworth’s Chocolate Brown "Kiwi Special". It features Wattie’s Baked Beans, crispy Kiwi Bacon, home- made potato rosti, soft poached egg, fresh herb salsa verde and watercress.

Another clever creation comes from Café Ahuriri in Napier with their classic dish with a twist - a filo shell filled with Wattie’s Baked Beans with an egg cracked over the top, finished with a dusting of Grana Padano cheese. It is baked in the over until crisp and served on a bed of crispy streaky Kiwi Bacon and topped with mascarpone cheese and spring onion curls. The dish is finished with a watercress pesto drizzle.

"We’re delighted with the calibre of the cuisine we are seeing in this competition," says Kristy Blackman, Kiwi Bacon senior marketing manager. "There are some truly classic dishes coming through and one of them is set to be enshrined as a Kiwi favourite."

Public voting determined the 15 regional finalists and now the cafés are being judged on appearance, atmosphere, service, meals and overall experience by an expert team of judges.

The overall winner of the 2012 NZ Café of the Year competition will be announced on November 12.

The Food in a Minute segments featuring the winning dish are set to screen on TV1 and TV2 from 26 November.

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