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Medici burger has the winning flavour

Martinborough’s Café Medici has emerged victorious from the melee of Wellington On a Plate with one of Burger Wellington’s new regional awards.

Its ‘A Perfect Swine’ creation featured a chorizo patty with maple bacon, salt and pepper squid, mozzarella, chimichurri, gin-marinated cucumber, and tabasco aioli, in a flaky salt brioche bun.

Owner Nick Arnold is no rookie when it comes to Burger Wellington, having competed roughly 10 times since the competition’s inception.

Some of his previous entries have also been successful, winning best overall burger in 2019 and best Burger/Beer Match in 2014.

Sponsored by Wellington-based brewery Garage Project, Burger Wellington sees hundreds of entrants battle it out for the title of best burger each year, and people are prepared to travel far and wide to try the best buns.

Arnold said he’d had several customers from Wellington come to taste his burger this year and even had a couple from Hawke’s Bay recently.

“It never ceases to amaze me,” he said of the community support and distances people were willing to travel.

Arnold also recalled walking down the street and having people call out to him to say they’d tried his burger.

“The community is how it works. It’s partly the reason I enter it,” he said.

Only two entrants for this year’s Burger Wellington were from Wairarapa.

“It’s a commitment,” Arnold said. “It takes a lot of time to come up with a burger, I feel.”

In fact, the process of coming up with an entry can begin as early as February some years.

“I like to have a think about it. Think what’s going to work. I might try to cook something up. I’ll ask my staff, and we’ll have a cook-off,” he said.

The process from start to finish can take months and also includes pairing a Garage Project beer with the burger entry.

Reminiscing about a pickle-flavoured beer from a previous year, he observed that “they’re really out there.

The beer pairing this year was a crisp, hoppy beer with “snappy” bitterness, “clean malt, tight white foam and a cheeky touch of terpene”, called The Devil’s Lettuce.

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