Notable Presentations from Four New Zealand Chefs

With a plethora of fresh produce, sustainable seafood, and exceptional protein available, chefs in New Zealand have the advantage of having some of the best ingredients in the world at their fingertips. And chefs aren’t afraid to approach their plates with a bright color palette that highlights the vibrant elements they’re using. Chefs Michael Meredith of Merediths and Des Harris of Clooney channel Michel Bras in their effortless, elegant presentations while Chefs Marco Edwardes of Te Whau and Leyton Ashley of Terroir go for a more methodical approach. Both styles are equally stunning, and urge the diner to eat the dishes with their eyes before digging in with their forks.

Cured Ostrich, Smoked Duck Liver, Figs, Heirloom Beets, and Pomegranate
Ostrich may stick out as an odd ingredient for American chefs, but in New Zealand it’s par for the course. Meredith cures the ostrich in a liquid mixture of sugar, salt, juniper berries, bay leaf, and smoked essence and pairs it with duck liver for a smoky, nuanced combination with depth of flavor. The plate is artfully painted with brushstrokes of red beet and finished with golden beets and bright fresh figs. The textural contrast is visible with curled croutons placed across the plate.
Eastherbrook Farms Quail with Foie Gras Mousse, Pickled Nashi Pear, Maple, and Mustard
Harris’ quail presentation is elegant in its simplicity with elements gracefully positioned on the large round plate. One look at the dish and the diner has a hint of the tastes and textures to come: the crunch of the hazelnuts, the zippiness of the mustard, and the decadence of the foie gras mousse, which elevates the dish to a luxurious finale. What could have been a monochromatic dish is enlivened with green and purple microgreens that are carefully placed for visual appeal.
Native Smoked New Zealand Scampi with Heirloom Tomato, Basil, and Muscavado Jelly
The presentation of tightly packed, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes topped with uber-fresh New Zealand shrimp scampi is lovely on its own. But Chef Ashley doesn’t stop there. For a little fun at the table, and to play off the smoked elements in the dish, he serves the scampi under a smoke-filled glass, which is lifted tableside. The smoke infuses the dish with additional flavor and engages the diner before they have even taken one bite.
Waikanae Coast Paddle Crab Salad with Wasabi Mousse, Radish, Coriander, Mint, and Salmon Caviar
Edwardes’ dish of Waikanae Coast Paddle Crab Salad with Wasabi Mousse, Radish, Coriander, Mint, and Salmon Caviar is pulsing with energy and brightness. Each piece is carefully positioned on the plate to create a pattern of colors and ingredients that is brilliant and welcoming. The radish is no longer a mere vegetable, but topped with herbs to resemble a blossoming flower.