Award-winning Lake Farm Beef, on the shores of Lake Karāpiro, has continued its tradition of producing 'tender, tasty and healthy' beef and making the finals of the annual PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Grand Final.

Owners Colin and Keryn Brown are finalists in the Best of Breed — Crossbreed and Other category for their Murray Grey/Wagyu steak processed at Wilson Hellaby.

In their category they are up against Don Buchanan of Taumarunui (Piedmontese X processed at Land Meat) and Nick Perry of Pahiatua (Angus/Gelbvieh processed at Alliance Levin).

The PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Competition is in its 15th year and aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin beef steak in New Zealand.

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It is open to beef farmers, retailers, wholesalers and food service suppliers. It originated from a national carcass competition, when a taste element was introduced to raise consumer awareness of the qualities of beef steak.

The competition process involves an initial assessment of the sirloin steak at Carne Technologies in Cambridge where 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 semi-final 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 judging criteria includes aroma, texture, flavour, tenderness and juiciness.

The finalists for the 2018 PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Grand Final were announced on the weekend after a thorough, and at some points, tense semifinal judging session at AUT in Auckland on Saturday.

The top steaks now move to the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin Grand Final at Fieldays on Wednesday, June 13, where they will be assessed one last time by a judging panel headed by Graham Hawkes, a stalwart of the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin competition and owner and executive chef of Paddington Arms in Invercargill.

"Every year I am amazed at the level of quality of steaks we judge. The entries continue to get better and better and I can't wait to have my taste buds tingling from all the tender steaks.

"As a chef I am constantly looking to source the best possible ingredients, so competitions like this set a benchmark for quality and helps to guide us on where to get our produce from. We forget sometimes how lucky we are in New Zealand to be able to cook with such amazing beef."

Joining Graham will be some of New Zealand's top chefs.

Continuing the Waipā link is Harry Williams from Cambridge's Alpha Street Kitchen & Bar, plus Hamilton's Andrew Clarke (Victoria Street Bistro) and Mat McLean (Palate Restaurant). All four chef judges are current or former Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chefs.

A fifth judge has also been added to the panel this year after Beef + Lamb New Zealand's search for the nation's Ultimate Steak Connoisseur. The title went to Hamilton-based Gretchen Binns after an inspired application video which set her apart from the rest of the herd.

They will determine both the Grand Champion and Supreme Brand Champion.

AngusPure Ōtorohanga has also teamed up with Wilson Hellaby and made the final of two categories: Best of Brand — Retail and Best of Brand — Wholesale and Foodservice.