In 2016, our Executive Chef Andi Bozhiqi was named a New Zealand Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef, as recognition for his consistent delivery of world-class New Zealand beef and lamb dishes and his talent and skill.
Five chefs throughout the country were named with this honour, and each over the course of the year hosted an Ambassador Series Degustation to celebrate this award and demonstrate their talents. Andi featured first on the schedule, with a stunning five course degustation taking place in April at the Millhouse Restaurant. Beef + Lamb Food Service Manager Lisa Moloney visited the resort for this event and has written of her experience below...
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Ambassador Chef, Andi Bozhiqi presented the first of the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Series dinners for the year recently and it was an absolute treat.
The first course of shallot and red wine crusted lamb loin with roasted fig, pickled red cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke and charred feta was a visual feast. This dish caught the eye and tempted my palate with an array of colour and a nice balance of textures. The lamb was perfectly cooked and tender; and the flavour harmony was nicely balanced with the tangy pickled red cabbage, the sweetness of the fig and savoury feta which all worked together to enhance the flavour of the lamb and matched with a delicious Peregrine Rataburn Riesling 2010.
The second course was stunning and comprised of barrel smoked lamb rump, hay, carrot, fennel, sweetcorn and a braised lamb neck sandwich. This is a concept which Andi had experimented with until he got it just right and was happy to come out to explain to diners his concept behind this dish which added a lovely personal touch and a wonderful opportunity to talk to the creative mind behind such a stunning menu.
Of course being in Central Otago there is no shortage of lamb or hay and as Andi explained he had wanted to experiment with this combination for some time. The smokiness of the hay came through nicely without overpowering the lamb and was nicely complemented with a potato and goat’s cheese foam also infused with hay which provided a soft texture nicely contrasted with the crunch of the carrots and a confit tomato cleverly disguised underneath. The wine match for this dish was Te Mata Coleraine 2014.
The braised lamb neck sandwich was cool and refreshing with the lamb neck rolled flat along the slice of corn bread, topped with a splash of colour from the apple and mint gel, marinated fennel, tomato heart, pickled carrots and tarragon.
With two superb lamb dishes done and dusted, Andi now served up steak and egg! Andi is renowned for taking simple ingredients and turning them into a culinary masterpiece and this dish was not just any old steak and egg dish. The Angus beef fillet, confit egg yolk, labneh, bok choy, parsnip and spicy jus had a bold meaty flavour and was served perfectly medium rare and ‘oh so tender’.
The steak was surrounded by delicate accompaniments including a perfectly poached egg yolk from his very own chickens, carefully sous vide at 61° and a colourful sprinkle of egg yolk crumb which gave a delightful contrast of texture. The parsnip purée was creamy and soft with its nutty sweetness - the perfect flavour match to the beef and the freshness of the bok choy was a nice contrast to the spicy kick from the jus. This dish was matched with a glass of Saint Clair Merlot 2014.
For the fourth course, Andi appeared at our table again to casually explain that this was ‘just’ a dish of beef, onions and mushrooms which we all know are such a harmonious combination. However upon the plate being served to us we all agreed that our own attempts at this combination would never look quite like this!
Braised beef cheek, broccolini, onions, mushroom and Japanese BBQ sauce. Andi had slow cooked the beef cheek for two days and with beef cheek being a favourite cut of mine, this dish would have to be my favourite of the night. The flavours and components of this dish were outstanding. The beef had a delicious buttery texture and was covered in a sesame crumb and had a delicious intense beefy flavour that only slow cooking can produce. The onions gave a variety of texture from the crispy fried onion ring, soft onion petals and a sorbet-like onion powder. The Japanese BBQ sauce gave a nod to Kobe, the Japanese restaurant at Millbrook, and added a surprise fusion of flavours to the dish and another amazing wine match with a glass of Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir 2010.
A unique palate cleanser was served next of grapefruit, passionfruit curd and basil granite. This was a lovely combination of sweet and sour flavours and a creamy soft texture which cleansed our palates nicely.
Dessert was a chance for Andi to introduce us to Thiaki, his Japanese pastry chef. Andi explained the etiquette for eating this dessert which consisted of each of us cracking open a tube of caramel and chocolate with a knife to reveal fresh raspberries, lime semifreddo, white chocolate and caramel. These elements were all intricately encased and having to reveal them ourselves added a nice theatrical element to our evening. This dessert was stunning, a real work of art on the plate and equally as delicious nicely rounding off a stunning menu and most enjoyable dining experience.
The cosy and rustic interior of The Millhouse Restaurant was a wonderful platform for Andi to showcase his skill as one of New Zealand’s top chefs. It was delightful to have Andi and his team interacting with the dinner guests, which brought the kitchen to the table and added a charming element to the evening.
All in all, my whole experience at Millbrook Resort was enchanting right from beginning to end. An overnight stay felt like a week away! The staff were courteous and went out of their way to ensure every detail of my stay was taken care of including being chauffeured around in golf carts, my dining experience superb, my room elegantly appointed and a morning breakfast so vast it kept me going all day. All of this set in a magical setting of mother nature in all her autumn glory.
Food Service Manager
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc.