Cafe chat: September 26

KIM TRIEGAARDT
Last updated 09:48 26/09/2012
Robert and Christine Koller

THEIR GUESTS BECOME FRIENDS: Robert and Christine Koller of Quickenberry Lodge with their trophy for the country's best hotel/resort.

Tessa Walker
WINNING APPRENTICE CHEF: Tessa Walker from Cook'n with Gas has won the HSI Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year competition.

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Top apprentice

Cook'n with Gas boasts the country's top apprentice chef. Tessa Walker won this year's HSI Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year competition in Auckland beating eight other apprentice chefs vying for the title. Walker's winning menu was a main of seared fillet of salmon rolled in capers and green herbs on a warm red pepper, bean and carrot salad, served with spicy cauliflower on truffled celeriac puree with balsamic glaze. Her dessert was rice pudding with orange cat tongue biscuits on strawberry coulis with an apple, mint salsa and creme fraiche.

Personal service wins

Quickenberry Lodge at Terrace Downs is the country's best hotel/resort. Owners Christine and Robert Koller beat out Huka Lodge, Taupo, The Dairy Guesthouse, Queenstown, and The Bolton Hotel, Wellington to take the title at the recent New Zealand Travel Industry Awards. Robert Koller credits the personal service he and Christine give to their guests for the win. 'It's a very small operation with only four bedrooms so most of our guests become friends,' he says. The Swiss-trained hotelier says the hotel's fine dining menu that serves up four-course meals every night is also part of the attraction.

Steaming good

When the vintage Kingston Flyer steam train hits the tracks again at the end of the month, UK chef Andy Lisseman (most recently chef at Jack's Point Clubhouse) will be on hand to feed diners and train riders. Lisseman will be running the Flyer Cafe based at the Kingston station on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. His experience includes a stint at the prestigious Le Pont De La Tour restaurant in London under chef Tim Powell, a protege of global culinary superstar Marco Pierre White. Lisseman says he has a passion for local produce and the new-look menu will feature home- made artisan breads, chutneys and preserves, and a Central Otago Tasting Platter.

Bakers' delight

The SPCA is celebrating another stellar fundraising success from its annual Cupcake Day. Bakers around the country produced tens of thousands of cupcakes raising $250,000 on the day. Chelsea NZ's Hottest Home Baker, Emily Taylor, awarded the Most Creative Cupcake to Auckland's Kerry Morris.

New owners

Tiffany's reopens its doors on Friday after being closed for a "freshen-up". New owners of the Oxford Tce fine dining restaurant, mother and son team Jan and Alan Price, who also own Becks Southern Ale House on Colombo St, say while the menu is new the venue will stay the same for now.

Good news

It's been a long and often frustrating process, but good news for the many Cafe Valentino fans in the city - the popular eatery with its Mediterranean-inspired menu will soon be open again. Owner Michael Turner has converted an old building at 168 St Asaph St into a large and spacious restaurant and is putting in an imported wood-fired pizza oven he hopes will be fired up towards the end of next month.

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- The Press

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