Auckland's Sale St Bar has beaten more than 130 contenders to take its place in the finals of a nationwide wild food challenge.
The 15th annual Monteith's Beer and Wild Food Challenge served up more than 5,000 dishes by 132 contenders ranging from backpacker pubs to fine dining restaurants. Each dish must be paired with a beer or cider that compliments it.
Sale St Bar chef Ben McRae created The Buck Hunter's Grill, serving up horopito and flaxseed rubbed venison loin with manuka smoked kumara, pikopiko, watercress and kawakawa beer damper.
The entry was paired with Monteith's Black Beer with the dark malts complementing the strong flavours of the smoke and rich earthy taste of the venison.
McRae's creation will join entries from the Coromandel's Pepper Tree Restaurant and Bar, Nero's Restaurant in Palmerston North, Logan Brown and the Bangalore Polo Club, both in Wellington, Christchurch's The Pedal Pusher and the Mount Cook Backpacker Lodge & Chamois Bar & Grill in a live cook-off on September 24.
Head judge Kerry Tyack will be joined by two guest judges, Alan Brown and Yvonne Lorkin, to determine this year's national champion, who will walk away with $15,000.
Tyack says this year's competition has been so close he has increased the number of finalists from six to seven plus the people's choice finalist, Hamilton's Victoria Street Bistro.
"The standard of food and beverage matching has been astoundingly good this year and after splitting hairs over entries, I've simply had to include an additional competitor in the final cook-off.
"This final round will really up the stakes; the nation's most daring chefs will be recreating their wild masterpieces alongside fellow competitors."
- Auckland Now