Cafe Medici’s Burger Wellington finalist, ‘Prawn Underbelly’. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

A burger featuring king prawn toast and caramelised pork belly has earned Martinborough’s Cafe Medici a place in the final of the Burger Wellington category of the Wellington On A Plate food festival.

The cafe’s creation, Prawn Underbelly, sits in a sesame and buttermilk bun with toffee crackling and is served with Sichuan pepper fries.

Cafe Medici is the only finalist from Wairarapa in one of the festival’s three categories – Burger Wellington, Dine Wellington and Cocktail Wellington,

Prawn Underbelly is one of five finalists chosen from more than 200 burgers that were entered for the festival.

The finalists will be judged by industry peers whose results are then combined with public ratings to determine the overall winner.

Staff had been “working flat stick” cooking and serving hundreds of the burger for the competition, cafe owner Nick Arnold said.

The cafe has competed in the festival for the past eight years and this was the fourth time it has made a final.

“It’s great news,” Arnold said.

“It is an overwhelming feeling to get into the final.

“It is an amazing team effort.

“As the boss, it is great to be able to say to them, ‘you have done well’.”

Inspiration for the Prawn Underbelly burger came from the cafe’s “hot” dishes.

“We thought, ‘Let’s put them together’ and it came together really well.”

Arnold said he didn’t think he could eat another burger for a while after so many test burgers.

Consistency was the key because the “last burger has got to be just as good as the first”.

He said he would like to see more places in Wairarapa competing as the whole thing was “a real buzz”.

“It’s something special.”

Festival director Sarah Meikle said the WOAP team were thrilled to see a Wairarapa eatery in the festival finalists.

“WOAP has always been a regional festival,” Meikle said.

“We’ve always aimed to encourage locals to support their local eateries while encouraging Wellingtonians to get out beyond the city limits and try the incredible food available in the wider Wellington region.

“So, it’s wonderful to see Cafe Medici in Martinborough represented in one of the finalist categories – let alone the biggest festival category, Burger Wellington, which is always hotly contested.

“It just goes to show that a clever concept and a delicious burger will win out no matter where it is.”