West Coast whitebait patties were selling like hotcakes at the Central Otago Farmers Market in Cromwell Heritage Precinct yesterday with the help of Indian MasterChef judge and celebrity chef Kunal Kapur.
Mr Kapur, who is touring New Zealand after being presented the Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship for 2012, is the executive sous chef at the award-winning hotel Leela Kempinski Gurgaon in India and is the host and judge of MasterChef India - a show that attracts 90 million viewers.
Mr Kapur said he used the best quality products and New Zealand lamb and beef was always his top selection.
"Back in India, New Zealand lamb is the best lamb you can serve.
"It's [New Zealand lamb and beef] very close to my heart," Mr Kapur said.
While he had been in New Zealand only three days, he praised the cuisine on offer in Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago regions.
"Oh my God, we have had some awesome food," he said.
He was impressed with the "beautiful food" at Queenstown restaurant Rata, owned by MasterChef New Zealand judge Josh Emett, and was inspired by the Asian favours with local produce.
After hearing a lot about whitebait fritters Mr Kapur tried the delicacy for the first time while dining at Wai, also in Queenstown, on Saturday.
"It's so nice.
"It's not fishy at all," he said.
Yesterday he tried his hand at cooking the treat while tasting the produce at the farmers' market.
He was impressed by the imagination producers showed with raw products and after trying Wild Thyme Gourmet's pinot noir sauce, he was hooked.
"That's something new. It's so tasty," he said.
Wild Thyme Gourmet owner Graeme Budge said it was fantastic to get praised by the celebrity chef.
- The Southland Times