Three chefs have been named winners of the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge for 2016. The national competition celebrates the very best of fresh New Zealand grown vegetables. Winners included Adam Thorley-Symes for the Breakfast and Brunch category, Kirisi Filipo for the Lunch category, and Drew-Anne Weeds for the Dinner category.

Thorley-Symes from The Shack in Raglan produced a beetroot and tofu tian dish with pressed kumara, herb puree, hazelnut, quince and figs.

Vegetarian Dish Challenge judge, Geoff Scott, consultant chef and food-writer said that his dish showed great skill bringing together both vegetables and fruits into a delicious breakfast menu item.

In the lunch category, Kirisi Filipo from Wharekauhau Estate in Palliser Bay created a spiced red pepper olive grove falafel that was stuffed with cabbage, roasted kumara, with kawakawa, pistachio, chilli and cashew nut crusted parsnip, goat’s curd and beetroot gel.

“The falafel stuffed cabbage with crispy goats curd and chilli nut crusted parsnip demonstrated Filipo’s clever use of textures whilst still retaining great nutritional value and flavours,” said Scott.

And finally, for the dinner category, Drew-Anne Weeds from Peppers Clearwater in Christchurch produced a dish called ‘Out of this Earth’ which Geoff Scott commented was an expertly presented and perfectly balanced dish with a delightful use of beetroot coated in tofu, beetroot fondant and raspberry powder. “It was sweet, acidic and crunchy and wonderfully crafted,” said Scott.

This year the judges were very impressed with the clever use of ingredients and the great variety of choice throughout the three categories that made for a fierce competition.

“Chefs around the country are being a lot more creative and daring, it’s great to see them letting rip with wonderful combinations and fantastic ideas using everyday New Zealand grown fruit and vegetables,” said Scott.

Also judging were Mark Wylie, Culinary Services Manager at Compass Group, Andy Gibb, Chef tutor at Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic, Bevan Gray, Chef and Life Health Foods product developer and Hospitality NZ’s Operations Manager, Tracy Scott.

Now in its fifth year, the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge is sponsored by Life Health Foods, nationwide wholesale food distributor Bidvest, Choice Catering Equipment and

The three winners were each awarded a New Zealand Vegetarian Dish winner plate, a Samsung 1100w-semi commercial programmable microwave and an Air New Zealand mystery weekend voucher worth $1200.