Matariki is extra special this year as its first time as an official holiday. The stars of Rotorua and BOP’s culinary scene will also have moments to shine this Winter with eateries across both regions entering the Matariki Dish Challenge.
The Matariki Dish Challenge has been a winter highlight in the Waikato for the past seven years. This year’s event runs from June 13 to July 17.
The official launch, at Peppers on the Point this week, aimed to excite and educate local eateries before they set off to create their culinary creations. Event organiser Vicki Ravlich-Horan says, “the challenge has been hotly contested among Waikato chefs and we hope the same will be the case in Rotorua and the BOP.”
Over 90 guests enjoyed Peppers on The Point hospitality, meet an array of local producers and had the opportunity to learn more of the significance of Matariki. Kingi Biddle, Rotorua Lakes Council Mātauranga Māori Specialist and MC on the day said “Matariki shines on everyone. Matariki belongs to all of us and seeing the smiles in the room Matariki is grounded in the room.”
Rotorua NZ Business Development Manager, Vanessa Wallace says “The Matariki Dish Challenge provides a wonderful opportunity for our local hospitality sector to participate in an event that celebrates Matariki and what it means for Aotearoa New Zealand. The challenge is new to Rotorua and the wider BOP region which is exciting in itself. We know that locals and visitors alike will also enjoy the chance to try new dishes from many of our favourite eateries.”
Oscar Nathan, General Manager of Tāpoi Te Moananui ā Toi, Tourism Bay of Plenty says “We are always keen to support activities that showcase the stunning array of ingredients our sub-tropical climate and growers are producing. The Matariki Dish Challenge not only enables us to celebrate the growing awareness and significance of Matariki each year, but also the diversity and creative hospitality of our many talented chefs, front-of-house staff and venues.”
All eateries will be mystery judged with the top three being re-visited by the head judge to determine the 2022 Champion in each region, who will be presented with a specially commissioned taonga in early August. Diners can also participate by rated the dishes online to determine the People’s Choice winners.
Ravlich-Horan believes that “with Matariki being an official holiday from 2022 the challenge offers a way for people to learn more about the significance of this time of year and celebrate local at the same time, and what better way to do this than through food!”
Chef Pete Peeti from Te Arawa , advises eateries entering the challenge to, have fun, enjoy it and create a wonderful story with food. “We have got the most amazing produce and food out there and we need to highlight it and Matariki is a great way to do so”, he says.