By PHILIP CHANDLER
Being nominated as one of 100 new candidates for the world’s ‘The Best Chef Awards’ is a dream come true for Queenstown’s Vaughan Mabee.
The Amisfield executive chef, and Auckland’s Pasture owner-chef, Ed Verner, are the first New Zealanders to have made this prestigious list.
‘‘I’m pretty stoked, it’s kind of like a bucket list [honour] for me,’’ Mabee says.
For him, though, what’s best is it throws the spotlight on NZ cuisine, which he believes can be as much a tourist magnet as this country’s scenery.
‘‘This is really putting NZ cuisine on the world stage, for once, and I’m really proud of that.
‘‘I think this is a great platform to be able to showcase the brilliant, rare, endemic product we have here.’’
As to the ingredients that got him recognised, Mabee says Amisfield’s recent slew of awards would’ve helped.
‘‘Let’s say those [judges] are saying, ‘hey, why don’t we look at NZ this year?’
‘‘Well, the first restaurant they’re going to look at is the one that won ‘best restaurant’, and we won that in 2021 and ’22, and we’re the only restaurant in the South Island that has held three hats, and we’ve had three hats for four years.’’
He’s also won ‘most innovative chef’ for three years.
Mabee says his latest honour also reflects his extensive culinary chops, having worked at Noma, in Denmark, when it was voted the world’s best restaurant, and having trained at a Michelin three-star in Spain.
‘‘I’ve taken a whole 13 years away from NZ to train myself amongst and under some of my favourite chefs in the world.’’
Then there’s the ‘‘consistency’’ gained from working for 10 years at Amisfield.
Mabee says his nomination’s also a huge reflection on his team — ‘‘by no way would I be
able to be where I am now if it wasn’t for the drive of my team, the team is everything’’.