Judges’ kitchen cupboard secrets

The Outstanding NZ Food Producer judges.

It’s almost time for the announcement of the winner of the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2017 so thisNZlife asked the award judges to reveal their kitchen secrets.

NZ Life & Leisure proudly supports the annual Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. With 150 entries, from the Catlins to Kaitaia, the judges were spoilt for choice. The winners will be announced on thisNZlife at 8 pm on Thursday 27 April.

Tasting and testing their way through 150 products from 82 entrants was the judging panel led by head judge Lauraine Jacobs with NZ Life & Leisure food editor Anna Tait-Jamieson, writer Lucy Corry and seven further judges from a range of disciplines, including restaurateurs, food writers and producers.

Judging the entrants was a hard task – and thisNZlife decided it was only fair to give them a grilling of their own. Take a sneak peak inside the judges’ fridges and find out what they REALLY cook at home.

Lauraine jacobs
Lauraine Jacobs
Food writer and Head Judge, Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Tell us about yourself
My work as the weekly columnist for the NZ Listener is a real privilege. I get so many opportunities to eat out, to taste exceptional food and go on culinary journeys which I know makes me a person to envy! I am vitally interested in the stories of New Zealand food, and passionate about farmers’ markets and our best food retailers. For more than 30 years I have observed and written about the massive changes in the way we view and eat real Kiwi food, inspired by the continuing innovation of our farmers and food producers. But it is the change of season that provides the greatest inspiration for my own cooking.

Name five foods that are always in your fridge?
Butter, cheese, milk, free-range eggs and fresh vegetables. Always!

Cooking and food are part of your work but what are you like in the kitchen home? Are you experimental or do you take the simple approach?
While I have never been a professional cook, it is the single occupation that makes me happiest. If I am feeling down, or restless, I am off to the kitchen and there will be an exceptional meal cooked that night, brightened of course by pairing it with a glass or two of our lovely fragrant New Zealand wine.

What ingredient are you never without?
Marlborough flaky sea salt.

What’s your favourite dish using New Zealand produce?
A simple platter of fresh vegetables, steamed or raw, and all bought daily at the numerous farm-stands from the Omaha Flats Rd near my summer home. And accompanied by a small piece of beef eye fillet, unless my husband has been the Proper Provider and caught fresh snapper or kingfish. His fishing has been pretty hit and miss this summer.

Do you have a naughty treat hidden in your cupboard?
Whittaker’s chocolate bars that I try to restrict myself to just one square a day. That’s hard!

Do you have any kitchen gadgets in your home, bought but never used?
I have an ancient ice-cream machine that I used to love but seem to have relegated that to the basement, along with the juicer and the breadmaker. It’s probably time to put them all on TradeMe.

Anna Tait- Jamieson
Food Editor, NZ Life & Leisure

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Anna in a nutshell:
Anna Tait-Jamieson combines a background in food manufacture and hospitality with a career in radio and print journalism. She has worked as an agricultural journalist for Radio New Zealand, made food and farming features for broadcast and profiled many of the country’s artisan producers for newspapers and lifestyle magazines. All of which has made her a staunch supporter of New Zealand’s evolving food culture, but done nothing to cure her aversion to brussel sprouts.

Name give foods that are always in your fridge:
Full-fat milk, cultured butter, parmesan cheese, my son’s home-brewed beer and, unfailingly, a dried-up scrap of ginger root.

What are you like cooking at home?
Cooking at home is usually fresh, fast and simple. Experiments are saved for dinner parties.

What ingredient are you never without?
A few lemons.

Favourite dish?
My favourite recipe is seafood paella cooked over charcoal on the beach and made with whatever my family brings back from the sea.

Naughty treat?
Is chocolate naughty?

Anna’s egg decapitator

Do you have any kitchen gadgets in your home, bought but never used?
Not just one, I have an embarrassment of gadgets: onion goggles, egg decapitator, croissant roller, coconut scraper…

Lucy Corry
NZ Life & Leisure contributor and freelance food writer

Tell us about yourself
I became a journalist because I like telling stories. I became a food writer because I realised the best stories always start in, or lead back to, the kitchen (just like the best parties). I grew up in a home where food was of paramount importance, whether that was cooking it, eating it or reading about it. I didn’t realise how good I had it until I went to boarding school aged 13 and entered a world of congealed banana custard, pineapple-laced coleslaw, fruit you wouldn’t feed pigs and meat of dubious origin. As a journalist, I love the way food connects people with their families, their culture and their roots. As a cook, I know of no better way to make friends and influence people than to sit around a table and eat together. And as a mother, I love being able to share family traditions and foster new ones.

Zany Zeus Yoghurt

Name five foods that are always in your fridge?
Zany Zeus Greek yoghurt, cheese (multiple varieties), Dijon mustard, unsalted butter, broccolini.

What do you like to do when you cook at home?
It depends on time and energy levels. I’m hopeless at cooking for myself – that’s why cheese on toast was invented, right? I do like to push the boat out a bit for other people, even if that’s just to make a slightly fancier version of cheese on toast.

What ingredient are you never without?
The humble egg (free-range definitely, organic preferably) cannot be beaten.

What’s your favourite produce recipe?
At the moment, it’s whatever I can forage from the garden, such as the last of the yellow pear tomatoes with a herby vinaigrette made from homegrown basil, parsley and mint. Extra smug points if this combination is piled on a slice of homemade sourdough.

Do you have a naughty treat hidden in your cupboard?
There’s no such thing as a naughty treat! That stash of dark chocolate at the top of the pantry is brain food, essentially for spurring the creative process late in the evening (or early in the morning).

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Do you have any kitchen gadgets in your home, bought but never used?
The ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid mixer doesn’t get as much of a workout as I would like, especially as it occupies valuable freezer space. Nor does the pristine pasta machine I found in an op shop a couple of years ago. I should really do something about that.

Emily King
Sustainable Business Network, Restorative Food Project Leader

Tell us about yourself?
I love to grow and cook my own food; I find it extremely satisfying and healthy to know where it’s come from. I’m inspired by recipes from around the world and people I meet when traveling. I’m interested in knowing more about the source of our food and the true cost of production.

Name five foods that are always in your fridge?
Eggs, cheeses, maple syrup, miso, yesterday’s leftovers.

Food and primary industries are a big part of New Zealand’s economy and in your work, but what’s your own relationship with food like at home?
My family and I predominantly eat vegetarian, but occasionally I eat meat from my Dad’s farm. My husband and I love to cook and to experiment with different flavours, using produce from our garden, or turning leftovers into something else. Recently we were inspired by a trip we took to Japan, and the Ima Cuisine cookbook by Yael Shochat.

What ingredient are you never without?

What’s your favourite recipe using New Zealand produce?
In summer I love to eat as many tomatoes as possible!

Dark Chocolate

Do you have a naughty treat hidden in your cupboard?
I have a penchant for dark chocolate which doesn’t usually last long enough to be hidden.

Do you have any kitchen gadgets in your home, bought but never used?
I should really use my KitchenAid more than I do.

Sam Mannering
Food writer and co-owner of Homestead and Company

Tell us who you are and what you love about cooking and food, what inspires you?
I am the executive chef and co-owner of Homestead, the weekly food columnist for the Sunday Star-Times, and the author of two cookbooks: Food Worth Making, and A Year’s Worth. My approach has always been driven by simplicity, seasonality and generosity. I don’t like to muck around too much with ingredients – I’d prefer to let them speak for themselves. Fergus Henderson (St John Restaurant, London) has probably had the biggest influence on me when it comes to food.
Name five foods that are always in your fridge?
Orange juice, anchovy paste, parmesan, marmalade, butter.

What do you like cooking at home?
I try to go as simple as possible whether I’m at work or home. Funnily enough, I’m more intimidated cooking for my friends than at the restaurant.

Cumin seeds

What ingredient are you never without?
It would either be cumin, butter, or lemons.

What’s your favourite way to cook New Zealand produce?
I’m a big fan of grilled corn on the cob.

Do you have a naughty treat hidden in your cupboard?
I always have maple syrup. The scorched almonds are in my fridge, so they don’t count.

Do you have any kitchen gadgets in your home, bought but never used?
I have one of those ridiculously expensive blenders. For some reason, I never use it.

Trudi Nelson
Radio broadcaster and founder of Fresh.co.nz

Tell us who you are and what you love about cooking and food, what inspires you?
My love of food began back when I was eight, and I got given a Snoopy apron and cookbook from my godmother. I still have the much-loved and well-used cookery book and the apron – which my children now use. Love is a key word for me when it comes to cooking. If you approach a recipe with a smile and good attitude, no pressure or rush, I believe it will always turn out well. My biggest pleasure is watching people enjoying a meal I’ve created and seeing them savour the flavours.

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Name five foods that are always in your fridge?
Cream, green veggies, carrots, yoghurt, cheese.

Shepherd’s pie.

Cooking is a big part of your work at Fresh but what do you like cooking at home?
I’m a simple girl at heart. I love rocking a good lasagne, shepherd’s pie or stuffed omelette. I’m more experimental with my work.

What ingredient are you never without?
Salad leaves and lemons out of the garden.

What’s your favourite produce?
Crisp red capsicums.

Do you have a naughty treat hidden in your cupboard?
Whittaker’s 5-roll chocolate

Do you have any kitchen gadgets in your home, bought but never used?
I have a pressure cooker. I paid a lot for it but never use it!

Other judges 
Enzo Bettio

Enzo Bettio comes to the judging panel with the belief that believes that New Zealand’s market edge is in niche products. He would know, he established Delmaine in 1980 growing it to be one of the country’s leading deli brands before selling it in 2002. These days he runs a deer farm, boutique winery and restaurant in Clevedon. Vin Alto, the restaurant showcases his venison products, wine made from traditional Italian grape varietals and his family’s warm Italian hospitality – not to mention his lemon liqueur!
Kathy Paterson

Kathy Paterson’s career spans Cordon Bleu teaching in London and New Zealand, running her own successful catering business and co-authoring cookbooks. Kathie is a food writer and food stylist for the New Zealand Herald Bite Magazine and the New Zealand Beef + Lamb Magazine. Kathy is Immediate Past President of Food Writers NZ.

Mat McLean

Mat McLean is Head Chef and Owner of Hamilton’s Palate Restaurant. He has won numerous awards including Best Regional Restaurant in the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards (2011 and 2012). He is a great supporter of artisan producers in the Waikato and committed to cooking with fresh seasonal, local produce. Mat is regarded as one of this country’s best red meat chefs and is a lifetime Platinum Beef & Lamb New Zealand Ambassador.

Nick Honeyman

Restaurant owner and TV chef Nick Honeyman is driven to by finding fresh, seasonal Kiwi produce and showcasing it at its best. He’s known for doing this on The Best of New Zealand with Nick Honeyman, which aired on TVOne in 2016 and also at his Auckland Restaurant, Paris Butter Born and raised in South Africa, Nick left at 18 to pursue his dream of becoming a world class chef. True to his dream he worked at the finest restaurants in Sydney, Tokyo and Paris before landing in New Zealand. He worked initially at The French Café as well as opening a number of restaurants and becoming Executive Chef at the Sofitel before opening Paris Butter to rave reviews in early 2016.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.

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