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10 June 21: The Stars Shine Bright in the Waikato with the iCLAW Matariki Dish Challenge back for its sixth year.

Waikato Food Inc’s Matariki Dish Challenge is set to brighten the local hospitality scene for its sixth year. This unique challenge dares local chefs to create a dish inspired by Matariki while celebrating local ingredients.

While last year’s challenge could not go ahead Waikato Food Inc Projects and Events Manager, Julia Clarke says “we still marked Matariki and highlighted our local challenge with an impressive dinner cooked by past Matariki Challenge champions.”

With the challenge back in 2021 local chefs have been sharpening their knives and local knowledge as they vie for the coveted Marty Wong trophy.  11 Waikato eateries have entered each of which will be mystery judged with the finalists being judged again by the head judge to determine the 2021 champion.  “The judges are looking for a link to Matariki, a celebration of local ingredients as well as great cohesive and knowledgeable service” says Julia.   “One of WFI’s goals is to help local food businesses grow and so the challenge is designed to test the whole team, not just their kitchen.”

Another goal of the organisation is to celebrate the talent in the Waikato and Julia says, “the challenge gives locals a great excuse to get out and try something new, discover just how much talent the Waikato has; chefs as well as producers.”

Karthik Gollu from Alpha Street in Cambridge says “the Matariki Dish Challenge provides us with an excellent platform to showcase what the region and New Zealand has to offer.
It has always been important to support the local growers and producers and they need our support more than ever before.”   Another Cambridge eatery in this years line up is Alpino who have merged their Italian heritage with the New Zealands in their dish Te Putake o Matariki. A traditional folded pizza or calzone, represents the tight embrace between Papatuanuku (the earth mother) and Ranginui (the sky father). 

First time entrants, Gothenburg’s dish is Kai whenua mahi tahi, Braised beef cheek with kawakawa spiced pappardelle, local oyster mushrooms, water cress, brioche, macadamia and horopito crumb, finished with a red wine reduction is, owner Susanna Fullana says “is a team collaboration showcasing local high quality ingredients.”

Redoubt Matamata are celebrating Winter with their dish Nga Wheua Ataahua (The lovely bones).  Chef Karli Maniapoto says “roasted bone marrow is our Matariki twist on the traditional pate. It is roasted with garlic and rosemary representing the rich comfort in the midst of the cold of takurua (winter) and served with crisp toasted ciabatta.”

Julia says, “it’s not just the judges that get to try all these beautiful dishes, the public can vote for their favourite too.” So, this Matariki celebrate local, discover something new and enjoy some amazing food with the iCLAW Matariki Dish Challenge.