I have always worked with food, from part-time student jobs to my first head chef job at The Ceilidh Place in Scotland, an alternative hotel. My partner, artist Stephen Allwood, and I ran Café Medici in Martinborough for 11 years, and before that Fed Up Eatinghouse in Ponsonby, Auckland, amongst others.
My favourite food style is French, they just take food more seriously. I like their timeless, classic use of regional resources and ingredients, and the inspiration of historic figures like Carême and Escoffier. Stephen and I have had a strong connection with France, visiting from Britain when we lived there, and more recently holidaying there, which we liked so much we bought a small house in a tiny mediaeval village in back-country Aveyron (photo above). We love it there, it’s the real thing, old men in berets with nearly incomprehensible accents; farming (sheeps’ milk for Roquefort cheese); and colourful bustling markets which are full of fresh fresh fruits and vegetables, wines sold from the people who made them, goats’ cheese made the day before, and always someone making a paella géant the size of Mars. Our favourite French memories are almost always food ones, like the old lady in the hotel in Blois who made us a special dessert of home-made brioche and pear purée and was so proud of it; our favourite restaurant in l’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and the pigeon pie I had there; and the time we mistakenly ordered brains then had to eat them.
My other food ‘thing’ is breads, I’ve made bread since forever, and never tire of the smell, feel, or taste. It’s satisfying and contemplative as well as creative, and not nearly as hard as you might think. Plus, the variety of things you can make is quite startling; for example the sourdough bread I make is made with just flour, water and salt – it gets its yeast from the piece of uncooked dough kept from the day before. Now I think that’s clever. But the doughs which use butter are exciting too – richer, they make good desserts as well as good breakfasts, then for lunch…well you get the picture.
My enthusiasm for food isn’t limited to these of course, I get inspiration from my travels too, both as a child when we lived in the Middle East and in India and Pakistan, and traveling with Stephen when we’re spent more than a little time through Asia, India, Britain and around Europe, and Morocco. I’ve found I like almost every sort of food, from all sorts of cultures, with the possible exception of tripe.
You can contact me by email, or phone 021 021 35501.