A Spanish-inspired dish with a distinctly New Zealand flavour earned high praise from judges at the first ever Tapas World Cup, which was held in Valladolid, Spain last week.

The smoked chocolate and buckwheat cracker with Horopito lamb and cardamom flan was the creation of Auckland chef Jasbir Kaur, who represented New Zealand in the competition. Sixteen professional chefs from 16 different countries battled it out for the grand title in a high-pressure cook-off, that gave competitors just 25 minutes to produce eight perfect portions of their tapas dish. Judging was carried out by a panel of Spain’s top chefs, who described Kaur’s creation as “spectacular” and “never seen before”.

“I loved the experience,” said Kaur. “It was a great opportunity to showcase some New Zealand produce in a unique way, and fuse methods and flavours from different continents. This dish expressed my love for Spanish traditional flavours as well as unique new world herb influences.”

Kaur’s love of Spanish fare was cemented earlier this year, when she had a three-and-a-half-month stint working at one of the world’s top restaurants, the Michelin-starred Disfrutar, in Barcelona.

She returned to New Zealand in May to take the helm at South Auckland’s newest tertiary education provider Ignite Colleges, which has just invested $1.5 million into building a state-of-the-art cookery school on its Manukau campus. Facilities include two fully-specced commercial training kitchens, catering for 20 chefs each, and will open in January.