Foodie box challenge attracts plenty of chefs

But First Dessert hopes their passionate kiwi dish will win votes. Photo supplied.

Twenty eateries are putting their culinary flair to the test, entering the 11-day Plates of Plenty Challenge which is starting this Thursday.

The Challenge is part of the annual Flavours of Plenty Festival which will feature 47 foodie events across the Coastal Bay of Plenty between 4 - 14 April.

Each Plates of Plenty Challenge entrant receives a box of nine locally sourced ingredients and must choose at least three of the items to create a bespoke dish to feature on their menu during the festival dates.

Toi Ohomai hospitality academic leader and Plates of Plenty Challenge judge Peter Blakeway. Photo supplied.

These dishes will vie for the Judge’s Choice Award which will be determined by an expert panel from the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology hospitality faculty, while diners will be able to submit their votes for the People’s Choice Award.

The festival and associated dish challenge are a key project for Tourism Bay of Plenty and general manager Oscar Nathan says expectations are high after last year’s festival scooped two coveted New Zealand Events Association awards.

Sangam Giri from Sailor Galley & Rum Bar with their curried chutney fish cake dish. Photo supplied.

“It’s always exciting when our foodie producers, hospitality teams, tour operators, and event organisers come together to showcase the region’s incredible edible offerings,” Oscar says.

“The Plates of Plenty Challenge inspires our region’s chefs to get creative, using an eclectic selection of ingredients which they might not have used before, to ensure their unique festival dish shines.

“It’s a win-win for diners’ tastebuds and for the vital exposure that food and beverage producers also get during this process.”

Florian Torsello at Hide Bar & Eatery will offer a seafood and blue cheese yoghurt dish during this year’s Flavours of Plenty Festival. Photo supplied.

Toi Ohomai academic leader Peter Blakeway says his team’s role in the festival, as expert judges, demonstrates the tertiary provider’s commitment to supporting and upholding the professional skills and creativity that drive the hospitality sector.

“The eateries in this year’s Plates of Plenty Challenge will certainly enjoy the bragging rights if they win one of the top titles, but the way that this festival brings people together and showcases the innovative talent that we’re lucky enough to have in our region means that, ultimately, everyone wins,” he says.

Pearl Kitchen’s David Stuart (left) and Nigel Reid are hoping to repeat last year’s winning efforts with their latest smoked fish pie and beer entry. Photo supplied.

Last year’s Plates of Plenty Challenge winners – Alma Eatery in Ōmokoroa and Pearl Kitchen in Pāpāmoa – have signed up again for this year’s competition as they attempt to defend their titles.

They’ll be competing against:

* Benny and Brew (Ōtūmoetai)

* But First Dessert (Tauranga)

* Cadera (Ōhope)

* Fox’s Hawker House (Mount Maunganui)

* Hide (Mount Maunganui)

* Latitude (Mount Maunganui)

* Master Kong (Mount Maunganui)

* Miss Gee’s Bar & Eatery (Tauranga)

* Papa Mo’s (Pāpāmoa)

* Picnicka (Tauranga)

* Roxie’s Cantina (Mount Maunganui)

* Sailor Galley & Rum Bar (Mount Maunganui)

* Talisman Restaurant (Katikati)

* The Comm (Whakatāne)

* The Crown & Badger (Tauranga)

* The Daily Cafe (Te Puke)

* The Trading Post (Paengaroa)

* Trinity Wharf Tauranga.

Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan. Photo supplied.

Each entrant will choose their ingredients from a Plates of Plenty Challenge box, featuring Blue Monkey Cheese from Mount Eliza Cheese (Katikati), Microgreens from Mama Kali’s Farm (Te Puke), Classic Earl Grey Tea from Noble & Sunday (Whakatāne), Curried Onion Chutney from Nana Dunn + Co. (Pāpāmoa), IQF Golden Kiwifruit and Kiwiberries from Yieldia (Paengaroa), Purple Passionfruit Pulp from Bay Tropics (Pyes Pā), Smoked Kahawai from Smokey (Katikati), Low Carb Hazy Pale Ale from Mount Brewing Co. (Mount Maunganui), and Lemonade Infused Gin from Dabbler’s Gin (Tauranga).

“Our hospitality sector is fortunate to have such a tasty array of products which are grown or made in the rightfully named Bay of Plenty, and I can’t wait to see what the Challenge entrants will create with them,” Peter says.

For festival programme and ticket information, see flavoursofplentyfestival.com.

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