John Skotidas, head chef at Mazi restaurant, wins the Alliance Te Mana Lamb Challenge

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st November 2018

The winner of the first Alliance Te Mana Lamb Challenge is John Skotidas, head chef at Mazi restaurant.

Five chefs took part in the final cook-off on Tuesday, November 20 2018 at Hello Fresh in London, and they all had to create an original lamb dish using two cuts of Te Mana lamb, the oyster shoulder and loin, in 1 hour and 30 minutes.  

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John's winning dish 

lamb fillet and shredded

lamb shoulder with miso,

aubergine and onions

On winning John said: “It is exciting and really motivating – it’s been a great experience and I enjoyed meeting the other chefs.

“I’ve never used Te Mana lamb before, but I really like working with it, it has great flavour, marbling and it was very tender.”

He added: ““I saw the competition on The Staff Canteen so I decided to enter. I like to cook lamb and I had a strong dish which I thought would do well plus I really want to go to New Zealand!

 “I’d recommend other chefs enter next year, it’s always interesting taking part in competitions and showing what you can do plus being under that pressure for an hour it’s pure adrenaline.”

The other finalists were; Victor Gerard from Bagtelle restaurant, Luis Freitas from Caravan restaurants, Pablo Fernandez from Celeste and Connor Godfrey from the Royal Garden Hotel.

The judges, who were chaired by Christopher Baston, chef lecturer from Westminster Kingsway College, were impressed by John’s lamb fillet and shredded lamb shoulder with miso, aubergine and onions – he will now go on a trip of a lifetime to New Zealand to meet the producers as part of his prize.

Christopher said: “What’s been impressive about today’s finalists has been their different choice of flavours and techniques. John’s dish was fantastic and really stood out to all the judges for its taste and presentation – his use of aubergine and miso with the lamb was excellent.

“This competition really has legs – it features a great product and I can only see it getting better and better. I’d advise all young chefs to compete it makes you both a stronger person and chef.”  

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John Skotidas, Victor Gerard, Luis Freitas, Pablo Fernandez and Connor Godfrey 

This was the first time Pure South UK have held the competition and they wanted to showcase the versatility of Te Mana lamb which they started working with two years ago. The result of a ten year farming programme, the free-range lamb is raised at high altitude on the pastoral land of the South Island in Spring, and then grazes on chicory pastures in the summer. It’s during those last thirty days living on the chicory pastures, where the higher levels of Omega-3 and polyunsaturated fats are produced. Resulting in a milder tasting and premium quality lamb.

Alliance Marketing Manager, Claire Bedouin, said; “I’m really happy with how the final went and we had a great line-up. This was the first time we have held this competition, so it was challenging but the chefs really made it happen.

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Luis Freitas from Caravan restaurants,

“We had 16 chefs who we put through to the voting process, they all came from great, fine dining restaurants so the quality was excellent which was brilliant for us as we are not very well known.

“There were 7,000 votes which was a fantastic response and more than we had hoped for.”

She added: “Visually John’s dish was exceptional and in terms of flavour it was excellent so I’m very happy with the winner. All of the chefs were brilliant today but unfortunately, we can only pick one.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st November 2018

John Skotidas, head chef at Mazi restaurant, wins the Alliance Te Mana Lamb Challenge