KEEPING COOL: Two-and-a-half-year-old Nanziri Walsh enjoys the best part of the challenge, eating ice-cream. D8071-090

BUDDING young master chefs stole the show at the weekend’s Wild Food Challenge.

About 20 children entered the food challenge, which took place at Mahy Reserve on Saturday, producing dishes that blew the socks off the judges and resulted in them awarding some of the adults’ prizes to kids.

But the overall Grand Prize winner went to the adults, Roz Tocker and Tracy Anderson, who won with their dish “New Sins of the Wild’ – a platter of wild pork and watercress sausage, rabbit and duck terrine, pickled cherries, tempura-battered stuffed courgette flowers, karengo and potato bread with kawakawa and watercress butter, garnished with nasturtiums.

“There were quite a few highlights, but the winning dish was pretty stellar and, in particular, I loved the rabbit terrine, it was absolutely gorgeous,” said judge and one of the organisers of the event, Mawera Karetai.

“It was a complex dish, but everything was in balance and it ate really nicely. It was a well-deserved win.”

Runner-up was Kay Henare with her “Honesty Box Platter”.

“The quality of entrants went up a notch this year. We saw and tasted some remarkable food,” says Mawera.

But it was the children that were the biggest surprise.

“The kids actually smashed the adults; we ended up giving adult prizes to kids because we couldn’t not give the kids the prize because the quality of their food was absolutely stunning.

“There was one dish called ‘Mr McGregor’s Revenge’. It was a rabbit dish baked in clay and, oh my gosh, it was just beautiful.

“The other one was this absolutely stunning zucchini and beetroot chocolate cake. It was so good, it was just brilliant.”
Amelia Mackenzie’s cake won her the Best Kids Dessert prize.

“We were getting this food and we were having to question the person who was reading to us to see whether it was an adult or a kid’s dish because it was in the time frame for a kid’s dish, but it looked like an adult had made it and it tasted like it too.

“We know that the kids were making it themselves because they were doing it right there.

They are so talented.”

Mawera says there was an obvious shift in attitude towards food by the younger generation and this was evident by the children taking part in the challenge.

“This generation is much more connected to food than perhaps ours was because our kids are being raised with an environmental awareness that we didn’t have.

“Part of that is that they know more about food production and I think they want more accountability for what they are eating. There is a definite shift, you could feel it and you could see it on the day.”

Judges also included Pete Peeti, Pete Glasson, Shannon Patangata, and Maurice Lees.

Wild Food Challenge winners

Children’s’ categories

  • Grand prize – Toby Nikau for “Toby’s Rabbit”.
  • Best group – River Rabbits for “Mr McGregor’s Revenge”
  • Best junior (up to 12 years) – Emi Jones, 12, with “Pipi Pasta”
  • Best effort – Skye Williams for her “Ice Cream Petition”
  • Best story – Te Aorangi Stewart for “Kamokamo Cheesecake”
  • Best kids’ dessert – Amelia Mackenzie with “Beetroot and Zucchini Black Velvet Cake”

Adult categories

  • Grand prize – Roz Tocker and Tracy Anderson with “New Sins of the Wild”
  • Runner-up – Kay Henare with “Honesty Box Platter”
  • Best Kai Maori – Kiana Jaye Henare with “Kawa High Tea”
  • Best pest – Toby Nikau with “Toby’s Rabbit”
  • Best from the water – Ella McConnell with “Yummy Fish”
  • Best from the land – Leon Mahy
  • Best use of local ingredient – Shannon Richards’ “Three Little Pigs”
  • Mystery box challenge – Mike Harland, Nicola Harland, 9, and Tarm Curtis with their venison meatballs and Middle Eastern peacock tenderloins dishes
  • Burger challenge chosen by public poll – Javaman Café for its venison, beef, bacon and fig burger.