Three top New Zealand chefs went head to head last night [Monday, 16 March] at the finale of the inaugural Pāmu & Cuisine Deer Milk Ice Cream Competition 2020.

The head chefs from Auckland’s Cocoro, Wellington’s Chameleon and Queenstown’s The Rees plated up their ice cream creations using NZ-made Pāmu deer milk for judges Kelli Brett and NZ ice cream Godfather, Giapo.

With the finalist dishes ranging from “doe-nuts” to an interpretation of the deer milk farm in spring, it was executive chef at The Rees, Corey Hume, who took the winning prize with his “Lemon Tree” dessert blowing the judges away.

Ice cream legend and judge, Giapo, said on the night: “Deer milk is such an innovative product so we wanted to look for innovation in the winning dish. All three dishes were incredibly delicious, but Corey came to us on a different level.

“Hospitality is difficult at the moment and where we are going with food is very different to what was happening 20 years ago - we no longer just go to a restaurant to feed ourselves, we want an experience. Corey presented a dish that gave us a taste experience with the deer milk, a beautiful smell with lemon mist and presented it with music for an audio element. It was incredible.”

Pāmu Chief Executive Steven Carden said it wasn’t surprising to see the quality of the dishes given the high calibre of chefs involved, including runners up Makoto Tokuyama (Cocoro) and Paul Limacher (Chameleon).

“Deer milk is destined for a bright future and the level of creativity we have seen in this competition is testament to that.

“For Pāmu, deer milk is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to being a leader in innovation that benefits not just our company but also, eventually the industry.”

As part of his prize, Chef Hume will get the opportunity to collaborate with Giapo at his legendary Britomart ice cream shop to create the first deer milk ice cream on the menu. He will also be visiting the Pāmu deer milk farm in Gore to learn more about deer milk and where it comes from.

The finale event marks the end of the first Pāmu & Cuisine Deer Milk Ice Cream Competition 2020, which saw 24 chefs across New Zealand submit their ice cream creations using deer milk, as well as adding their entries to their menus for the public to try.