Melissa's a cut above the rest
MELISSA Ziser was a world away, warming up in sunny Townsville, when she heard the good news coming out of her hometown Allora.
For the second year running, her famous lamb shanks with caramelised onion had won the state title at this year’s Ekka, but the news got even better: the meat connoisseur had won a second trophy with her malibu chicken.
And looking at the dish, with it’s lashings of shredded coconut, cream cheese and liquor, it’s not hard to see why.
Ms Ziser, formerly a chef in an a la carte restaurant, said she had put together the food dishes over the years.
“The malibu chicken is a modernised version of what I used to do in the restaurants,” she said.
“It’s a bit of a different concept and quite popular.”
The decision to move from kitchen to butchers was an easy one for Ms Ziser, who said she didn’t miss the shift work.
To have her food compete at a statewide level at the Ekka, Ms Ziser had to first get through the regional rounds of judging.
“You have to win the regional competition to go into the state final, and ours is outback Queensland,” she said.
“The other regions are two from Brisbane, two from the coast and northern ones.
“So when you win the regional competition, you’re competing against the other winners for the state title.”
Ms Ziser said the rigmarole of preparing the food to be judged at the Ekka was no different from her everyday duties.
“What I did with the lamb shank was what I normally do here – I make 12 at a time and that was the same with the malibu chicken,” she said.
“For regionals, the products have to be a product you sell at the counter anyway.”
Two sets of lamb and chicken were then sent down to Brisbane to be judged at the Ekka. Both entries arrived pre-cooked; one was re-heated and tasted by the set of judges, while the other was used for presentation purposes.
By increasing her trophy count this year, Ms Ziser said she had unknowingly set herself an objective.
“Next year I’ll have to hold onto this year’s state titles and win a third,” she laughed.