Regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading chefs and with Palate being one of the country’s most awarded restaurants, Mat McLean is a chef with highly developed technical skills, who’s committed to cooking with seasonal, local produce. He is not afraid to experiment with flavours and textures.

After gaining professional qualifications from Waikato Polytechnic Mat was awarded a scholarship to work in the UK, where he gained invaluable work experience at two of London’s most prestigious restaurants, Pure Leith (1 Michelin Star) and Capital Hotel (2 Michelin stars). Following a stint in Melbourne as head chef at the Middle Bite (a 1 hat restaurant) he returned to New Zealand to establish Palate in 2005. Palate Restaurant holds a one hat from Cuisine, awarded in 2015 and again in 2016. They won best regional restaurant in New Zealand in 2012 and 2013 in the Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year Awards. His dish for this year’s award is a Silver Fern Farms short rib, grilled tongue, smoked potato and liquorice that the judges said had exceptional balance. He has placed or won awards for this competition for the last three consecutive years.