Aoraki Mt Cook Hermitage Hotel executive chef Kane Bambery and chef de partie Chris Walker beat off stiff competition to take top spots in the prestigious Chef of the Region category when they won first and third place, respectively, at the Southern Light Salon Culinaire competition. Bambrey is the national title holder of the Monteith’s Beer and Wild Food Challenge.
Best kept secret
It’s not the most obvious place to stop for coffee, but Georgio’s Cafe at St George’s Hospital is well worth a visit. German manager and chef, Natascha Kama Hauf, and Chilean barista Hugo Campos make fresh bagels, Brazilian chicken parcels and pita pockets daily, as well as sushi and a range of gluten-free delicacies. Open Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4.30pm.
October has been named New Zealand cheese month. The inaugural celebration will see national events, in-store demonstrations, promotions and lots of tastings. See cheeselovers.co.nz.
Best of the beef
It was a South Island double in this year’s Best of Brand – Retail division in the annual Steak of Origin competition. Ballyhooley Beef from Winton, Southland, and Cheviot’s Harris Meats came first and second, respectively. Mark and Charlotte Stevens, of Christchurch, came fourth in the Best of Breed – British for their angus steaks that are processed at Silver Fern Farms in Belfast. Chris and Karren Biddles, from Northland, took the Steak of Origin Grand Champion title for their angus-jersey beef sirloin entry.
Spices and flavours
Looking for something a bit different? Learn to cook Nepalese cuisine with Jenny Garing from Ground. It’s Indian, but not quite, she says. the lesson costs $75 a person including meal, matching wines, class and recipes.At the Naval Point Yacht Club, 7pm on May 28. Email email@example.com to book.
Waitaki Valley wine-growers John Forrest, of Forrest Wines, and Jim Jerram, of Ostler Wines, are celebrating their gold medal wins at the 2013 London International Wine Challenge. The awards went to the John Forrest Collection 2010 Pinot Noir and Ostler Caroline 2010 Pinot Noir. Congratulations.
The winner of the Cane Fields Sugar baking pack with accessories is Ross Williamson, of Rangiora.
The winners of Waitoa Free Range Chicken fridge magnets are Shirley Scott, Lesley Ruske and Stephanie Grbic, of Christchurch; June Mannix, of Stoke; Iris Nimmo, of Greymouth; and Minnie Summerfield, of Darfield.
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■It’s a brave person that asks for a chance to right a wrong, but MasterChef contestant Ella Krauts was determined to show George executive chef Andrew Brown she could do a better job than the one that saw her booted off the reality cooking show.
Contestants had to replicate Brown’s Not So Lemon Meringue Pie but Krauts, who had been consistently impressing the judges, forgot to add the right sugar to her creme brulee mixture.
The mistake sent her to the bottom two and after a suddendeath fruit crumble cook-off she became the 12th contestant from the top 16 to leave the show.
‘‘It’s frustrating to make the top six and then do that – I made a mistake and it’s cost me,’’ she says.
Once the emotions had settled, she phoned Brown and asked him for a job. ‘‘I told him I didn’t do justice to his dish but I’d love the opportunity to try again, so could I please come and work for him.’’
Brown agreed to take her on in the kitchen at the George and Krauts now works there part time two days a week on breakfasts and lunches. The rest of the week, she’s returned to finish her Bachelor of Commerce degree in the food industry at Lincoln University.
The MasterChef experience proved a turning point for Krauts. She had been about to quit her studies when she saw the advertisements for the MasterChef auditions.
‘‘Everyone said just give it a go, even though they were always laughing at my practice efforts.’’
The break away from the industry during months of filming made her realise that despite the unsociable lifestyle hours of a chef, and the hard work, she had always loved food. The experience simply reignited her passion for it, she says. Staples in the fridge Butter and fresh herbs, I love coriander so I add that to just about everything. It always tastes good and fresh. In the pantry Salt, Sriricha( hot chilli sauce) and things for making sushi, like sushi rice and nori. Sushi is my favourite food so I make it whenever I can. Most memorable meal That would be one weekend when I went with my brother and some friends to a bach in the Coromandel and we collected scallops and caught one tiny fish. I made a seafood chowder that was so fresh and delicious. We sat and ate it, sitting on the deck overlooking the beach. My tool kit I have a good sharp knife that I really like and make sure I have with me all the time but what I really, really want is a food processor Last meal cooked at home Lamb stewed with dried fruit and cinnamon, served with ginger rice and cauliflower cooked in red wine and coriander seeds. Inspiration These days the internet is such a huge influence in cooking. I follow lots of food blogs, my two favourites are smittenkitchen.com (Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York City) and also Wellington-based hungryandfrozen.com. I’m always looking at cookbooks and Rick Stein and Annabel Langbein are great inspirations.
Turning point: Kitchen duties have reignited Ella Krauts’ passion for cooking.
At their peak: Kane Bambery, right, and chef de partie Chris Walker, medal winners in the Southern Light Salon Culinaire competition.