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Restaurant triumphs in national cheese competition

12 April 2006

Christchurch restaurant triumphs in national cheese competition

Christchurch Gondola's Pinnacle Restaurant took top honours at last week's Cuisine Champions of New Zealand Cheese Awards with their entry which judges said set new standards for the industry.

Pinnacle Restaurant is operated by Eurest, whose site manager, Rob Harrison, accepted the award for the Champion Cheeseboard category at a ceremony at Auckland's Hyatt Regency Hotel. Contenders were asked to submit their cheese menu along with photographs and a summary of their approach to serving cheese.

"The judges were very impressed with our philosophy. We put great effort into highlighting the individual qualities and strengths of each cheese, serving each with individually tailored accompaniments and recommended drinks. This award is great recognition of that focus on quality and attention to detail."

This focus on the individual characteristics of each of the nine cheeses the Gondola serves sees some imaginative combinations, such as the strong and highly textured Kaha Blue being served with two tiny slices of rare roast beef, semi-dried tomatoes and a dense Russian bread.

"We recommend Taylor's 20-year-old port to drink with that, but suggest beer or sherry with others. We believe that the conventional restaurant notion of a cheese platter fails to do justice to the individual cheeses and also fails to give customers what they want, since people's tastes and preferences vary. Our approach allows customers to order single cheeses or combinations where we have put a lot of thought into taste and texture."

Sponsored by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the awards recognise excellence in New Zealand cheesemaking. A panel of 32 distinguished judges, headed by US-based Master Judge John Greeley, assessed almost 500 cheeses from around the country.

This is the Christchurch Gondola's third award in three months, with one of its duck dishes as well as an entrée of field mushrooms with crab soufflé both picking up honours in local competitions recently. Harrison sees this as a testament to Eurest's focus on quality.

"It's very satisfying to have our efforts recognised in the competitive arena, and good for our customers to know that they are eating award-winning dishes in the restaurant."

Eurest is an operating brand of Compass Group New Zealand Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Compass Group Plc. Compass has over 450,000 employees working in more than 90 countries and is the world's largest foodservice company. Compass is listed on the London Stock Exchange as a FTSE100 company.

Compass Group has a range of catering roles in New Zealand, including onshore drilling operations, managing accommodation on mining sites, city office cafes, fine dining functions, provision of catering services to the RNZAF and manufacturing gourmet food for internal distribution and export.


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