For the first time, New Zealand will represent the Pacific Rim in the Global Chef Challenge - an impressive accolade earned by a team of two Hawke's Bay master chefs.
Te Awa Winery's Francky Godinho and his assistant chef, Vidal Estate's Claire Nickel, won gold at the Pacific Rim challenge this month, and will travel to South Korea in early 2012 to compete against six other teams, one from each region of the world.
Mr Godinho works at Te Awa Winery and has been a chef in Hawke's Bay since 2008, and Ms Nickel has been working at both Vidal Estate and Mission Estate since 2007.
Mr Godinho said he and Ms Nickel presented a three-course meal for eight people, including international judges from Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
"I think the amount of work we put into [it proved] we knew what the perfect menu was," he said.
"It showed we can demonstrate knowledge, can demonstrate colourful and really tasty food - that's something we practiced for two months before.
"It's all about the flavour combination, textures and colours on the plate complement and marry with all the three courses - looking and tasting nice, as well." Ms Nickel, 21, said coming from Hawke's Bay also gave the team an advantage as they had access to fresh local produce - much of it organic and hand-selected by the pair. Despite the significance of their latest win, the pair have a long history of competition success.
Ms Nickel has been competing since she was 17, while Mr Godinho has been named New Zealand Chef of the Year twice, and Chef of the Year twice at the Emirates Culinary Guild in Dubai.
Winning Menu

Entrée

Expression of texture
Carpaccio, terrine and braise
Kobe Master Beef carpaccio with truffle and walnut salad,
Ox tongue terrine wrapped in bresaola and crispy parmesan, braised beef filled with Savoy cabbage and butternut squash puree.
Main course

Taste of the sea
Pistachio crumbled Sterling White halibut and ragout in pastry basket, spanner crab tortellini, Jerusalem artichoke puree, variation of chef's garden vegetables, lemon and kafir lime foam.
Dessert

Celebration of contrast
Belcolade chocolate fondant, raspberry sorbet, rhubarb and ginger jelly, Anchor cream cheese sabayon and sugar ribbon.