Adam Thorley-Symes, the Shack’s Sous Chef, has taken out one of the top awards in the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge 2016, a national competition celebrating the very best of fresh New Zealand grown vegetables. 

Kiwi chefs are challenged to create delicious and inspired meals from one of the three categories of Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch and Dinner/Fine Dining.

Adam won the Breakfast category with his dish – Beetroot and tofu tian, pressed kumara, herb puree, hazelnut, quince & figs.

Adam created the dish based on his love of figs and he has artfully combined them with a selection of winter vegetables and marinated tofu.

“The combination of the marinated tofu, seasonal fruits and sweet vegetables, kumara and beetroot makes for a completely different take on breakfast.”

The judges commented “This dish showed great skill bringing together both vegetables and fruit into a delicious breakfast menu item.”

Adam said he was stoked with the win.

“I know I was up against some tough competition so it was wonderful to have my efforts recognised.  Vegetables are such a great base to a meal and we are so lucky to have such a diverse selection available in New Zealand.  With more and more people demanding creative vegetarian dishes – and not just vegetarians – I want to keep on challenging myself and pushing the boundaries so I’ll definitely be entering again next year.”

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Geoff Scott, consultant chef and foodwriter, said this year’s competition was particularly intense with a very high standard of quality.

“The judges were very impressed with the clever use of ingredients and the great variety of choice throughout the three categories which made for a fierce competition.”

“Chefs around the country are being a lot more creative and daring.  It’s great to see them letting rip with wonderful combinations and fantastic ideas using everyday New Zealand grown fruit and vegetables.  Increasingly, vegetarian dishes are not just being found on fine dining and dinner menus but also casual quality lunch offerings and gourmet breakfast choices as well.  More choice and better quality for diners is the way forward.  They will share their experiences and keep coming back.”

Also judging were Mark Wylie, Culinary Services Manager at Compass Group; Andy Gibb, Chef tutor at Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic; Chef and Life Health Foods product developer, Bevan Gray and Hospitality NZ’s Operations Manager, Tracy Scott.

Adam has been awarded a New Zealand Vegetarian Dish winner plate, a Samsung 1100w-semi commercial programmable microwave and an Air New Zealand mystery weekend voucher worth $1200.