An Indian-inspired nut brittle, ‘sesadamia’ butter and soba nut cookie bar were three of the winners in Australian Macadamia’s annual Innovation Challenge. The event sought local and international entries in a bid to find innovative – and delicious – uses for Australia’s native nut.
After more than 200 entries, the 10 finalists met in Byron Bay, the second largest macadamia region in Australia, on April 4 to cook their creations for a panel of food industry judges. Australian Macadamia Society market development manager Lynne Ziehlke says the Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity “for global experts and students in the industry to come together in one place and appreciate the unique versatility of macadamias”.
Australia is the world’s largest producer of macadamias and they are its fourth largest horticultural export. There are more than 700 growers producing roughly 50,000 tonnes a year, with 70 per cent of the crop exported to more than 40 countries.
Australian student Kirti Mittal developed her Britty Macaddy Chikki from her love of Indian peanut brittle made with jaggery. Mittal wanted a healthier option than other brittles made with sugar or corn syrup. She combined toasted macadamias with pumpkin and chia seeds, quinoa, and spices.
Pridhuvi Thavaraj took out the individual professional category with her remarkable Purple Sesadamia Butter. Thavaraj says by adding collagen powder and antioxidants her butter can be used in a range of ways, including as a face mask.
With finalists from Australia, China and Japan, the team category award went to Hiromi Mimura, Momoka Osawa, Koya Ohashim, Kazuma Konno and Haruna Taniyama from Japan. Their creation was Soba and Macadamia Ration Cookie Bars. The team wanted to break the reputation of emergency ration foods as lacking flavour.
Natsumi Otani from Japan was selected as the standout Industry Choice Winner for her Crispy Crunch Macadamia Karinto. Natsumi used the concept of karinto, a traditional Japanese snack to create a gluten free version appealing to western and Asian palates.
The judges were impressed by the high standard of entries this year and credited all finalists on their entries. Judges included: Pam Brook, macadamia grower and co-founder of Brookfarm; Dr. Kiyoko Kubomura, president of Kubomura Food Advisory Consultants Japan; Ben Kolly, technical and product manager for Haigh’s Chocolate; and Emma Welsh, the co-founder of Emma & Tom’s.
Prizes included a trip to Paris for Food Ingredients Europe 2019 conference in December, cash and mentoring.
Full coverage of the event will be in the May issue of Food & Drink Business.