Two gold medals came Tararua's way at the Steak of Origin awards grand final.

The annual competition is open to all New Zealand beef farmers, retailers, wholesalers and foodservice suppliers. Now in its 16th year, the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin is the pinnacle for beef producers in New Zealand, celebrating a product that is internationally renowned for its quality. It was held on June 13 at Fieldays.

For the entries to even reach the grand final they must have passed a series of stringent examinations. Initially, all 266 entries were sent to Carne Technologies where they were scientifically tested on tenderness, percentage cooking loss in weight, marbling, colour, water binding capacity and pH.

Peter Moore from PGG Wrightson with Graeme John Dyke, Pahiatua - Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, Class 4: Best of breed - British: other (Red Devon), processed at Progressive Meats.
Peter Moore from PGG Wrightson with Graeme John Dyke, Pahiatua - Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, Class 4: Best of breed - British: other (Red Devon), processed at Progressive Meats.

From there, only the very best 53 steaks went forward to the semifinal judging round where a 16-strong panel of chefs came together in Auckland to whittle that number down to the top three medallists in each of the eight categories.

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Class 4: Best of breed — British: other. Gold: Graeme John Dyke, Pahiatua (Red Devon), Silver: Graeme John Dyke, Pahiatua (Red Devon), Bronze: Graeme John Dyke, Pahiatua (Red Devon), processed at Progressive Meats.

Class 5: Best of breed — Crossbreed and other. Gold: Nick Perry, Pahiatua (Angus / Gelbvieh), processed at Alliance Levin.

The PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Competition aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin beef steak in New Zealand. It is open to beef farmers, retailers, wholesalers and foodservice suppliers. It originated from a national carcass competition, when a taste element was introduced to raise consumer awareness of the qualities of beef steak. This is the 16th year the competition has been running.

Farmer classes are open to New Zealand beef farmers and include six classes for the different breeds — European, British Angus, British Hereford, British Other, Crossbreed & Other and Lifestyle. This year there were 138 entries into the farmer classes. The brand competition had 128 entries, this competition includes two classes — Retail and Wholesale & Foodservice.

The competition process involves an initial assessment of the sirloin steak at Carne Technologies in Cambridge. Each steak is aged for three weeks before being tested for tenderness, pH, marbling and percentage cooking loss.

The most tender sirloin steaks reach the semifinal and are cooked to medium rare in a neutral flavoured oil without seasoning, before being tasted by a panel of judges comprising food writers and chefs.

The finalists (the top steak from each of the eight classes) are tasted at the grand final by a panel of chefs. The judging criteria includes aroma, texture, flavour, tenderness and juiciness.