Waikato Food Inc. News

Karli’s Spunky Standout

Karli Maniapoto reinvented the classic banana split for her entry in Waikato Food Inc’s inaugural Donovans Chocolate Challenge. And she came up with a winner.

She named her decadent dessert Spunky Monkey, it went onto the menu at Matamata’s Redoubt Bar & Eatery, where she is sous chef. The competition ran March 29-April 11, the winner was decided by popular vote, and Redoubt customers took Karli’s dish to the top spot.

On this Thursday afternoon, Waikato Food Inc’s project and events manager Julia Clarke visits Redoubt to surprise Karli with the news. She can’t believe her luck: “Who, me?” she says, as Julia presents her with the trophy and a bouquet of flowers. “That’s amazing. I’m blown away.”

Julia says it was a tight contest between chefs at Waikato eateries. “There was a high standard, Karli should be very proud.” Each entry showcased products from Donovans Chocolates, handcrafted in the Waikato, the perfect partner for the Waikato Food Inc competition. There were savoury dishes among the entries as well as innovative desserts.

Karli’s Spunky Monkey was pretty on the plate, combining a Donovans dark chocolate parfait with white chocolate mousse, brulee banana and Oreo crumb.

Says Karli: “Everyone loves banana split, it’s a Kiwi thing. I played around with ideas. The first time I made the parfait it was too rich and I adjusted it a little bit. I probably made it about four times before I got it right.”

Redoubt manager Dan Adlington is delighted with Karli’s win; he says customers loved Spunky Monkey (and clearly voted for it), and it may come back onto the menu after this result.

Karli says she gets great support from “all directions” at Redoubt, including Dan, her head chef Teji Sandhu, and Redoubt owners Kelly and Jacob Henderson. “It’s like a big huge family, everyone is so friendly, they look after you so well.”

Karli, from Hawkes Bay, trained at Wintec in Hamilton and has worked at Redoubt for the past five years. She learned kitchen skills at a young age from her mother, who cooked everything from scratch, and passed her love of food onto Karli.

Karli is now looking to the next Waikato Food Inc competition, the upcoming Meyer Melt Challenge, back for its third year. Her entry is a braised beef cheek benedict toastie with fried mushroom, egg, and smoky hollandaise. She’s named it Toastie with the Mostie!

Sounds like Redoubt customers have another goodie to enjoy.

  • Denise Irvine

A HUGE thanks to Donovans for sponsoring this challenge.