Ray Letoa from New Zealand’s Roxy Cinema has won the Moutai ‘Enter The Dragon’ cocktail competition.
Letoa was crowned the Moutai Master last week at an industry wrap party at Hot Sauce, QT Melbourne, for his cocktail ‘Descendant’s Elixir’.
Competitors were tasked with using Australian and New Zealand native flavours in their cocktail creations.
Letoa exceeded the judges’ expectations by incorporating a special New Zealand native ingredient, Piko Piko plant, to create Dragon’s beard fairy floss placed on top of the foam of his cocktail, served with an iced fog effect.
“Words can’t explain how humbled and honoured I am to be the first competitor from New Zealand and to battle it out amongst these talented bartenders,” Letoa said of his victory.
“To have taken out the main prize is an achievement I will remember forever. I want to say a big thank you to Moutai and the judges for this awesome competition which has given bartenders another creative outlet.”
The five finalists – which also included Kevin Peters (Garden State Hotel, VIC), Joe Sinagra (Halford, WA), Thomas Egan (New Gold Mountain, VIC), and Quynh Van Nguyen (Charlie Parker’s, NSW) – battled it out in front of an esteemed panel of judges that included Tash Conte, owner of Black Pearl, and Diana Chan, winner of Masterchef Australia 2017.
The top 5 finalists were tested for their creativity and expertise, challenged with creating a classic cocktail on the spot using Moutai, which was to be paired with one of three canapes designed by Diana Chan: smoked beef tartare with caviar, salmon blini with whipped cod roe, and pork belly with sticky sauce and wasabi mayonnaise.
As Moutai Master, Ray Letoa will be flown to China to experience and learn the ancient and modern techniques of Moutai production, followed by two nights exploring the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.