Dilmah Real High Tea

Jubilant winners of Dilmah RHT Challenge New Zealand 2014

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world,” quoted the dwarf king Thorin II Oakenshield in the book ‘The Hobbit’.

That is just what the winners of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge 2014, Volker Marecek (Executive Chef) and Benjamin McManus (Tea sommelier) of The Langham Auckland did with their Real High Tea presentation. Declared the national winners of the Challenge, the only gold they hoarded was the lovingly prepared cups of perfectly brewed golden Dilmah tea.

‘The Hobbit’ themed Real High Tea entry presented by them had all the elements of a true winner. The dramatic flair of presentation, an imaginative menu that offered countryside food with French influences from the 1800’s moulded to 21st century and an immaculate interpretation of the place of ‘real’ tea in the Real High Tea.

Meanwhile the team from Waiheke Island based Mudbrick Vineyard the pastry chef Monika Ederer, and sous chef Tino Passano were awarded the place of runners up with their gold winning entry. Perri Saunderson and Kate Sekulla of J Ballantyne & Co Ltd too claimed gold with a bold and creative Real High Tea presentation.

The awards were presented to the winners and medalists by Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando. “I have seen people who participate in these, really young people and when I hear the results I am truly amazed of the hidden talent in people and if not for opportunities like this they would remain without being discovered,” said Mr. Fernando felicitating the participants of the Challenge. “I always thank the judges who equally share our passion for tea and work very, very hard; long hours of the day and night and give us their best.”

The Dilmah Real High Tea New Zealand 2014 panel of judges consist of the Black Hat chef and world-renowned WACS  judge Bernd Uber; popular Australian restaurateur, chef, media personality and author Peter Kuruvita; and the younger son of Dilmah founder and tea connoisseur Dilhan C. Fernando.

Speaking at the award ceremony Dilhan C. Fernando, who is also the Director of School of Tea and Marketing Director of Dilmah said, “Today we saw the real progress in terms of how we evolved over the last three years.  We saw the renewed respect for tea; we saw an understanding of the luxury that we talked about.” Dilmah has always been exceptionally protective of the quality and the authenticity of the tea they produce. And seeing this meticulously crafted product evolve to its next level at the hands of masters of culinary art breathes new life to Dilmah’s passion for championing tea in the 21st century, taking it beyond the cup.

Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge was created by the Dilmah family way back in 2007 with the aim of putting the tea back in high tea. It seeks to bring back the focus of this much-loved social occasion to its most important element – the celebration of the tea as an herb that soothes, revives and acts as a harbinger of health, companionship and natural goodness that enriches life. The Challenge also acknowledges dynamism of the modern world of gastronomy and mixology and explores the place of tea in this realm.

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