Palmerston North and Wellington chefs celebrate in style

Last updated 10:46 07/10/2017

Seared whiskey dry aged Wakanui sirloin, with furikake butter and puffed beef tendons.

Hop-braised beef short rib, smoked carrot puree and saffron.
Nero restaurant owner Scott Kennedy and Logan Brown's Shaun Clouston have been named lifetime ambassadors of Beef and Lamb in New Zealand.

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A Palmerston North chef has been named one of the best beef and lamb cooks in New Zealand.

Nero's owner Scott Kennedy joins the cream of the crop along with seven other lifetime Beef and Lamb NZ ambassadors.

This week, Kennedy and Shaun Clouston, owner of Wellington's Logan Brown, celebrated by showcasing the proteins at a degustation at Nero restaurant.

The pair cooked two dishes each, including whiskey dry aged sirloin, lamb loin, rack and cheek and beef short rib.

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Kennedy said it was surreal to be named one of the best when he came from a little restaurant in Manawatū.

It was a hard road getting to this milestone, Kennedy said. But after 30 years he had finally reached a point where people trusted his food would be consistently good, he said.

No matter what he cooked or how much it cost, people would try it, he said.

Kennedy and his wife, Yvette, opened their first restaurant in Palmerston North when Kennedy was just 21.

Time was key on the degustation night as well – the sirloin was aged for about a month, making it tender, while locking in subtle whiskey notes.

The chefs prepared a part of the lamb that is often discarded. The lamb cheeks accompanied a loin and date chutney, giving it a soft and slightly gamy flavour.

Small details, such as edible flowers that garnish the braised beef short rib, were mirrored in the decor, as each guest received a posy of wild flowers.

The short rib dish is a go-to meal for Clouston, who makes many variations of it. This week, he served it with smoked carrot puree and saffron.

The base of the dish was simple and there were so many ways it could be executed, Clouston said.

He has been receiving Beef and Lamb awards since 2006 and Kennedy has been winning them since 1997, at his first restaurant, Vavasseur.

Beef and Lamb food service manager Lisa Moloney said each year about 200 chefs entered the Beef and Lamb Excellence awards. The top five were chosen as ambassadors and only eight were lifelong ambassadors.

The six other lifelong ambassador chefs are from Mt Maunganui, Dunedin, Whangarei, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

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