The three finalists, Anna Hansen, chef founder of the Modern Pantry restaurant; Juliet Harbutt, cheese champion and Geoff Sewell, “cross over” opera singer, are all recognised for the contribution that they have made to enhancing New Zealand’s profile in the UK over the past year.
The award will be presented to the winner at a reception to be held in the Penthouse of New Zealand House on Wednesday 24 March.
Named recently as one of the world’s top emerging chefs Hansen opened The Modern Pantry restaurant in August 2008, and it has quickly become a well known destination on the London restaurant scene. Committed to unusual and assertive flavours, Anna has introduced London diners to tamarillos, hokey pokey icecream (a staple on her daily changing menu), and kumara/sweet potato amongst others.
The Modern Pantry has earned 2 AA rosettes and a “Bib Gourmand” from Michelin. Her next project is a cookbook, due out in 2011, covering modern pantry staples for the home cook, and multiple ways of using them in everyday cooking.
Now considered one of the world’s top authorities on cheese, Harbutt is the author of many books on cheese including a comprehensive encyclopedia and has written columns for publications such as the BBC Good Food Magazine and New Zealand House & Garden.
Having sold, tasted and written about cheese for over 25 years, she’s now putting theory to practice, making goats cheese in partnership with pop-star turned farmer Alex James, formerly of Blur. Harbutt is a New Zealander at the top of her profession, New Zealand’s only “master of cheese” and member of the prestigious French institution Le Guilde des Fromagers.
Founder of Amici Forever, an opera/pop crossover group, Geoff pioneered the concept of classical/modern fusion music. With over 2 1/2 million albums sold worldwide, they were top of NZ’s charts with both their albums. A professional singer for 11 years now, Geoff has also recorded a solo album to critical acclaim.
Based in London, Geoff has made significant contributions to charity both in NZ and the UK, particularly those related to autism & epilepsy, two conditions of which his family have personal experience.