Kiwi chef wins World Tapas Champs in Spain
Like many Aucklanders, I’ve whiled away many an hour or two at Bellota, Peter Gordon’s tapas joint at SkyCity on Federal Street. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy a drink or two, watch the colourful Auckland scene and tuck into some fantastic food.
Bellota can be relied on for always providing a taste of Spain in a great setting, so I was delighted to hear that just three years into her career, Chef Shuyun (Dani) Chen, from Bellota by Peter Gordon at SKYCITY Auckland, has won the 2018 World Tapas Championship in Spain in a testing competition against 14 chefs from across the globe.
The stunning win follows the young, talented chef de partie winning the Australasian Tapas Competition in September this year, then heading to Spain to compete on the world stage.
Her innovative winning tapa featured escabeche vegetables rolled in raw yellowfin tuna with seaweed dressing, horseradish cream, crispy chilli served on a Calasparra rice cracker blackened with squid ink.
“This dish was inspired by the coastal regions of Spain. Yellowfin tuna is one of the most favoured fish in Spanish cuisine, that’s the reason I have kept it raw, so we can taste the freshness,” says Chef Dani.
Fresh from her big win, Dani is over the moon with excitement. “Competing and winning this international title has been the most amazing experience and I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to represent New Zealand. The competition was tough, but I really felt the support from all my colleagues back home, as well as Peter and the Bellota team,” she says.
Peter Gordon is extremely proud of the rising star at his Auckland restaurant and says it’s a testament to the hard work and passion Chef Dani has brought to her cooking.
“I’m hugely proud of Dani. This wonderful achievement is a real showcase of her determination to be the best tapas chef in New Zealand, and now the world! The event is a demanding competition and the whole team at Bellota have done an amazing job of supporting her through this journey, including our Head Chef Sameer who has helped coach her through the process. Big congratulations to Chef Dani and our Bellota team!”
Chef Dani started her career by taking on work experience in the kitchen of Peter Gordon’s other SKYCITY restaurant, The Sugar Club, before moving into a fulltime chef role within SKYCITY’s main kitchens three years ago. Her talent was quickly recognised and she progressed quickly to be appointed chef de partie at Bellota by Peter Gordon in March 2018.
She says she is thankful for all the aspirational opportunities SKYCITY has given her in her career so far, and the support to compete internationally.