There is a feeling of anticipation brewing across the nation as chefs from Whangarei to Invercargill prepare to fight it out in the 15th annual Monteith's Beer and Wild Food Challenge.
From July 16th to August 12th 2012, over 130 of the country's culinary aficionados will present their wildest dishes, perfectly paired with a Monteith's beer or cider, to a team of expert judges in a bid to snare the $15,000 prize.
These wild additions will be on each participants' menu for the duration of the Challenge, so diners with adventurous appetites will also be able to taste test delicacies that push gastronomic boundaries.
This year, chefs throughout the country are once again proving to possess a truly courageous gene - here's a taste of dishes from 2012's entrants.
Thared and Feathered - Slow braised osso bucco of wild Fiordland thar with handmade duck and caramelised apple sausage, served with a parsnip mousse, Tuscan black cabbage, sauteed oyster mushrooms and a sour cherry relish, matched with Monteith's Doppelbock Winter Ale from Logan Brown, Wellington.
Monty's Pigalicious Ribs - Wild pork spare ribs slow roasted in homemade shepherd's whisky barbeque sauce, served with kawa kawa and sea salt roasted kumara wedges, complimented by apple and celery slaw, finished with Monteith's Golden Lager battered onion rings, and matched with Monteith's Pilsner from Monteith's Brewery Bar, Rangiora. Razorback Bunny - Stuffed saddle of wild rabbit, served with boudin blanc (white pudding) of wild boar, pearl barley and baby leeks, matched with Monteith's Crushed Apple Cider from The Elephant Wrestler, Auckland.
Head Judge for the Monteith's Beer and Wild Food Challenge, Kerry Tyack says that he and his team of assessors are on a mission to find the most inventive entry; "The Kiwi culinary terrain is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, always evolving and changing. But there are still plenty of wild ingredients begging to be experimented with. This is not Fear Factor, we're not looking for shock value. We are looking for creative, skilfully crafted dishes and new, brave ways of combining beer and food," he says.
"The Challenge also provides the public with a unique opportunity to broaden their eating experience. There's no better judge than the adventurous diner, so we're looking for a 'People's Choice' finalist, by inviting restaurant goers to vote for their favourite competing dish at any participating establishment. The highest scoring 'People's Choice' finalist will then join the six other finalists at the Cook Off, where the national winner will be crowned." The Challenge has seen a consistently high calibre of entries over the last 15 years from outlets as diverse as country pubs to five-star restaurants. After years of experimentation, Tyack is still excited to sample these edible masterpieces. Everyone who votes via text for their favourite culinary creation will receive a POCKET voucher, entitling them to a free Monteith's beer or cider at the same outlet.
So go on, get a little wild. If you're game enough?
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