Judges heap praise on Cambridge restaurant

19 December 2016

How do you send a restauranteur into seventh heaven?

The answer is simple. Have their food recognised with one of the most prestigious culinary awards available.

Cambridge's Alpha Street Kitchen and Bar head Chef Harry Williams is very excited at two of his beef dishes earning a New Zealand Beef & Lamb Excellence Award.

These are national annual awards where restaurants are judged on lamb and beef dishes, flavour, quality, cooking technique and presentation.

The judges were lavish in their praise for Williams' variation on the surf 'n' turf. It had some modern twists featuring scotch fillet, Jerusalem artichoke, brandade puree, lobster claw which made for a "most enjoyable meal and deserving of an excellence award".

Judges also had plenty of praise for the lamb dish presented by Williams which featured cutlets with wasabi pea crust, lamb rib, mint gnocchi and pea puree.

Judges comments said the lamb took centre stage on the plate and the wasabi pea crust was a nice vibrant green against the medium rare roasted rack. "The texture added by the crust was excellent – a dry crisp shell on the tender and moist lamb. The lamb cutlets had been perfectly trimmed, well rested and carved nicely."

The judges said it was a well-considered dish with harmonious and interesting flavours which had been executed to a high level.

Williams, with 20 years experience in the kitchen, is no stranger to this award having won it once before while working for another restaurant. His motivation to become a chef came from his father who was a "pretty good cook", Williams said.

Restaurant owner Fiona Massey was also pleased with the accomplishments of Williams. "We are the only Cambridge restaurant to be awarded this respected industry standard and among just a few in the Waikato. The team and I are extremely proud to have received this and it is a great finish to a successful year for the restaurant," Massey said.

- Mike Bain, Stuff

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