by Jonathan Dine
12:30 PM Wednesday Jun 3, 2015
Bay chef Michael Rylie is a finalist in the New Zealand vegetable competition. Photo / Supplied
With more Kiwis opting to abandon their carnivorous roots for plant-based diets, chefs looked to produce their finest meat-less meals for New Zealand's premier vegetable competition.
The national competition celebrated the very best of fresh New Zealand grown vegetables.
Now in its fourth year, over 200 chefs from around the country submitted their dishes.
Clive River Bar Restaurant chef Michael Rylie has been selected as a finalist in the lunch category with his raw vegan dish, courgette, onion and orange salad.
Michael Riley's signature vegetarian dish - courgette, onion and orange salad.
The inspiration for his dish came from a customer who had become a raw vegan in order to lose weight.
"He was telling me about all the things that raw vegans can eat but the challenges in trying to find something interesting and tasty in a restaurant.
"So I started experimenting with different flavours and developed this salad with a really zingy dressing containing orange, ginger and garlic," Mr Rylie said.
Mr Rylie's salad is on the menu at the Clive River Bar Restaurant throughout June.
Competition organiser Pip Duncan said chefs are being challenged to deliver imaginative and tasty vegetable dishes on a daily basis, and not just for dinner.
"With a growing number of people choosing to eat a plant-based diet as well as those who just want to try new ways with vegetables, chefs are being asked to create vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch and dinner," Ms Duncan said.
Head judge Mark Wylie said the high level of creativity and thought put into all the entrants' dishes was impressive.
"The nine finalists showed a variety of technical skills and interesting combinations of vegetables and diverse flavours, beautifully showcasing New Zealand's fresh produce," Mr Wylie said.
Judging the final winners will be Geoff Scott, owner of Vinnies restaurant, Catherine Milford, editor of Food magazine and Chef Andy Gibb, Chef Tutor at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore.
The three winners will be announced in July.
[and y'know you can find tasty vege options right here in Palmerston North, at Cafe Royale, every day]