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Vixen burger relishes a challenge

Kate Hardwick will be entering Featherston’s Vixen Burger into Wellington On A Plate’s Burger Wellington competition. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI
[email protected]

 

This year will be Kate Hardwick’s first time entering Wellington On A Plate. It’s hard for the owner of Featherston’s Vixen Burger to know what to expect.

“It’s been kind of interesting,” Hardwick says while carefully weighing dough, then kneading and rolling it into perfectly round burger buns.

“You’ve got to be in to win!”

She’s expecting to sling somewhere in the region of 500-800 ‘Remutaka Roast’ burgers come August, but acknowledges, “that’s a total stab in the dark”.

“Our burger is really different to what everyone else is doing. It’s using mutton for a start,” Hardwick says, “It’s celebrating traditional Kiwi flavours.”

The Remutaka Roast burger. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

The mutton, provided by Eketahuna Country Meats, will be formed into a patty and paired with Remutaka Pass Creamery minted havarti, hazelnut-crusted roast butternut, braised silverbeet, Mela apple cider vinegar, quince jelly, and mayonnaise.

The combination will be served between a house-made Wairarapa olive oil brioche bun.

“The theme for this year is ‘out of place’, which to me is out of this place,” Hardwick said, pointing to the locally sourced ingredients, including the specially made havarti from neighbouring C’est Cheese and Featherston-grown quinces.

“It’s a tribute to the great New Zealand roast. It’s the flavours that I grew up with.”

The idea came to her almost immediately when she began thinking about the festival’s theme.

“My grandma used to make boiled mutton with caper sauce. I loved it.

“I think New Zealanders have been force-fed it badly cooked for a long time.

“To me, it’s very nostalgic sort of flavours – the mutton, the mint, the butternut.”

Hardwick moved to Wairarapa from Wellington about a year ago, when she opened Vixen Burger.

“This place came up for lease. It was a classic Kiwi little shop,” she says.

“I like it here. I really like Featherston – it’s the best of both worlds because Wellington’s just so accessible.”

Preparations for the Remutaka Roast burger began in February and are now well under way.

“I had to beg people for all their quinces around Featherston before the season ended,” Hardwick said, saying the cheese had to be made before the milking season began again.

Although new to the competition, Hardwick is no stranger to the food industry having worked in it for more than 30 years, both here and overseas.

With Vixen Burger, she hopes to challenge the preconceptions people may have about burgers.

“Just because it’s a burger doesn’t mean it’s not real food. People kind of just assume that you’re buying everything and putting it together. I’m making everything here, because I enjoy it and think it’s worthwhile.”

Since her move to the region, Hardwick has been enjoying the food culture of Wairarapa.

Wellington On A Plate will run throughout the region in August. Burger Wellington will be held from August 13 to 31.

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