Matariki Dish Challenge Winners

The culinary stars shone this winter with the Rotorua and BOP Matariki Dish Challenges.

The challenge, which ran for five weeks, allowed locals and visitors alike to taste their way around some of the district’s best eateries. And boy, were they spoilt for choice!

From decadent desserts created by But First Desserts and Lantern to sensational seafood from Sugo, Fife Lane, and Hide in the Bay of Plenty. In Rotorua some of the region’s newest eateries made their mark. Ani’s Gin Bar with their Puha Pasta, and Poco with a Beetroot Cured Warehou Kūmara Brandade. Peppers on the Point impressed with a fine dining entry while the Pullman’s Barrel and Co reinvented the classic boil up. Casual eateries also shone with dishes like Fat Dog’s Matariki Eggs Bene to Eastwood’s Mānuka Infused Lamb Pizza.

The judges’ job was a tough one, which Vanessa Wallace, Business Events Manager from RotoruaNZ, said is testament to the high quality of the Rotorua food scene.

“It was a fiercely fought competition and we were delighted with the innovative concepts that our local chefs brought to life to celebrate local produce and our indigenous Te Arawa culture.”

Tourism Bay of Plenty Tumuaki General Manager Oscar Nathan says the high calibre of this year’s entries helped showcase and elevate the importance of Matariki and the value of good kai (food) as New Zealand celebrated its first public holiday to mark the celestial occasion.

The Winners

Rotorua Matariki Dish Challenge 2022 Results

Champion – Ambrosia Bar and Restaurant

People’s Choice Winner – River’s Catch


2022 Champion was Ambrosia Bar and Restaurant with their dish of mamaku venison, kākano harekeke and foraged mamaku kawakawa pesto, celeriac puree, hāngi purple potato with Lux micro greens.


Chief judge, Kerry Tyack says: “This was a stunning entry. It had all the elements the judges were seeking. It was technically very strong with every ingredient treated respectfully and carefully curated to ensure it contributed something essential and positive. Visually it ticked all the boxes with a standard of presentation as good as you will see anywhere in the country. But it was the provenance of the dish and the expertly and sensitively told story that linked it to Matariki that raised the entry to the top. We really appreciated the attention paid to the detail, including the menu presented in te reo and the unapologetic use of locally sourced ingredients. Ka pai!”


Bay of Plenty Matariki Dish Challenge 2022 Results

Champion – The Trading Post

People’s Choice Winner – Fife Lane

The team at The Trading Post – French Bistro, in Paengaroa, drew inspiration from the stars to create their Matariki Chefs Menu.

The judges said, “It was clear from the moment we arrived at the restaurant that they were taking things very seriously and were committed to producing something wonderful. The dish was well promoted throughout the restaurant, the staff were amazing and knew their stuff extraordinarily well, and the wines chosen to accompany the dish were right on point.”

The Trading Post owner and head chef, Jordan Baudeche, created the menu with his partner Nina. Jordan says they researched the Matariki tradition and used local seasonal produce to “fuse indigenous flavours with French techniques.” This not only created a delicious menu but a great talking point. “It really created conversations and brought people together,” says Jordan.




Share This Post