Last night, Beef and Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chef, Freddie Ponder of Salt Restaurant in New Plymouth hosted 45 guests at his very first Ambassador Series dinner.

Ponder presented his guests with a five-course degustation menu - with each dish incorporating at least two cuts of beef or lamb - which was designed to showcase the skills that saw him named as a 2018 Beef and Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chef.

One of Ponder’s specialties is working with more unusual cuts in creative ways to bring dishes to the table which his diners wouldn’t normally consider eating.

“Working with both primary and secondary cuts gives me the platform to be innovative with food,” said Ponder. “Last night I served a beef liver and bone marrow pâté dipped in beetroot and spiced wine gel. I think it was a hit with the guests and I always like to see the expression on people’s faces as they eat something that is often considered to be unusual.”

Born in London but Kiwi proud, Ponder has been working at Salt on the Waterfront for three and a half years. With his twin brother Richard as sous chef, he loves living in Taranaki with its abundance of fresh seasonal produce.

The Ambassador Chefs are the voices of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, driving innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector. Leading into the dinner Freddie ran a demonstration to a group of local chefs, talking them through the process of constructing one of his beef dishes.

The group of chefs were then seated at a special chef’s head table for the five-course dinner which was an exclusive opportunity only available to other chefs currently holding the Beef and Lamb Excellence Award – 177 restaurants nation-wide hold the Excellence Award.

Ponder’s dinner is the first of five Beef and Lamb Ambassador series dinners. Next up is Kate Fay of Cibo, Parnell in Auckland, being held on National Lamb Day, May 24.