It could be argued that beef and lamb is quintessentially Kiwi. Deep rooted farming communities, a perfect temperate climate producing world-renowned meat has generated an export industry that is vital to this country’s economy. The subject of ‘beef and lamb’ is intrinsically linked to our national identity.
Chefs are naturally drawn to cooking with the finest produce, so having world-class beef and lamb readily available to them, it’s going to come as no surprise that these two iconic proteins have become staples on restaurant menus up and down the country.
This is where the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards – New Zealand’s longest running culinary awards – have played a vital role in promoting the lofty standard of cookery on offer. During their 23 years of existence, these awards have been acknowledging the skills, expertise and talent in our restaurant kitchens, with the intention of further extending the remarkable New Zealand food story by seeking out and acknowledging the great work our chefs do to contribute to this.
Some might be surprised to know that the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards were introduced to boost the number of lamb dishes on restaurant menus. It’s almost unimaginable that this stalwart of the ‘meat and three’ mantra wasn’t getting showcased in restaurants.
Fast forward to present day, the world is getting smaller and the cultural inspiration available to chefs is growing exponentially. Equally the tastes and trends of consumers change as often as the weather and it is challenging chefs to be dynamic to maintain their relevance.
What is the outcome of this? We have seen a change in the dining styles and experiences that restaurants offer. Gone are the days of ‘fine dining’ – white table cloths, the long, boozy lunch served with garlic bread. Today consumers want something informal, quick and light but still with punch and panache.
Equally with the competition for their leisure dollar ever more cut-throat, diners want something affordable. This has driven chefs to explore the ‘secondary cuts’ to offer dishes a little kinder on the pocket. Low and slow, sous vide and braised are regular adjectives on menus now and this has opened up a new world of flavours and textures that might have been considered beneath the cordon bleu chef of the 90s.
So where does this leave you, the reader? If you want to know you’re going to get a guaranteed level of quality from a restaurant, just look for the iconic Beef and Lamb Excellence Award plate adorning restaurant wall’s or head to restaurant directory here to see which one of the 170+ restaurants you’re going to try next.