Twenty local judges voted for their favourite indigenous dish and announced Millennium Hotel Rotorua the winner of the 2019 Ngā Kai a Matariki at the Rotorua Farmers Market today.

The dish was titled "Tuhinga o te maere", meaning "Element of Surprise", created by Millennium Hotel Rotorua's Executive Chef Jan Charvat.

Winner of Ngā Kai a Matariki 2019, Millennium Hotel Rotorua executive chef Jan Charvat. Photo / Supplied
Winner of Ngā Kai a Matariki 2019, Millennium Hotel Rotorua executive chef Jan Charvat. Photo / Supplied

It included gougere of saffron crayfish mousse on a bed of moemoe and celeriac puree, balancing on pan-fried rēwena complemented by pickled pikopiko spears.

This year four local hotels and catering companies took part in the competition that aimed to show traditional Māori cuisine in a contemporary way.

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Sous chef Sameel Buksh from Sudima Lake Rotorua prepared sautéed rīwai potatoes with horopito on black mussel shell with smoked mussels, kawakawa rub tarakihi and creamy kina with lemon.

Sudima Lake Rotorua sous chef Sameel Buksh. Photo / Supplied
Sudima Lake Rotorua sous chef Sameel Buksh. Photo / Supplied

Owner and chef for Stolen Bike Catering, Ryan Gregorash, served tarakihi on flame toasted rēwena with a horopito spice paste and a kūmara marmalade.

Executive chef of Terrace Catering, Timo Dicker, created smoked confit of beef with urenika potato, topped with horopito beef tea and kawakawa crisp.

Terrace Catering executive chef Timo Dicker's dish. Photo / Supplied
Terrace Catering executive chef Timo Dicker's dish. Photo / Supplied

The 20 judges were asked to vote based on the display and story behind the dish, visual appearance, the use of indigenous ingredients and the taste.

Local chef and contestant of 2017 My Kitchen Rules NZ Natasha Whitewood was on the panel.

Ngā Kai a Matariki 2019 chefs with trophy sponsor Nick Dalton from TOA architects. Photo / Supplied
Ngā Kai a Matariki 2019 chefs with trophy sponsor Nick Dalton from TOA architects. Photo / Supplied

"Matariki is all about celebration and today brought the community together to celebrate kai ki Matariki," she said.

Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea, owner of Kai Rotorua, was another judge.

"The winner on the day was Māori ingredients and how they were infused with other elements. The competition stepped up a level from last year and I am looking forward to seeing what is in store next time," he said.

Judges trying Stolen Bike Catering chef Ryan Gregorash's dish. Photo / Supplied
Judges trying Stolen Bike Catering chef Ryan Gregorash's dish. Photo / Supplied