While Feast Marlborough has been a triumph of collaboration between the region’s culinary stars, it wasn’t without a fair amount of blood, sweat and blisters from knife-wielding foodies behind the scenes.
With more than 200 people to feed at the WK Gala Feast, the show-stopping opening act of the four-day food celebration, it was going to take more than a few hands at the prep bench to deliver a five-course meal worthy of the red carpet event.
Head chef and co-owner of Arbour Bradley Hornby, who co-ordinated the menu, called on a dozen of his fellow chefs and chefs in training to help prepare a mountain of local produce, including 450 carrots, 110 crayfish tails, 60kg of lamb rump, 15 sides of salmon, 35kg of clams and 20kg of mussels.
Marlborough chefs who mucked in on the night included Sander de Wildt from Karaka Cuisine, Fran and Rory King from Feast Merchants and Peter Koller from The Swiss Butcher.
NMIT student of culinary arts Chante Whitehouse jumped at the opportunity to get some work experience in a fast-paced kitchen creating high-end dishes for such a large event, and earned a couple of blisters for her work.
“It’s been such an amazing experience to work with these chefs who are like mentors to me, such a lovely group of people,” Chante says.”I was expecting a really high-pressure environment, but everyone has been calm and quiet and we’ve all worked together really well.”
Marlborough Boys’ College student Cameron Miller, studies food technology and works at Arbour as a kitchen hand and waiter at the weekends. The aspiring chef hopes to do a chef’s apprenticeship when he leaves school and own his own restaurant one day.
The WK Gala Feast was created by Arbour, and co-owner of the award-winning restaurant Liz Buttimore says large-scale events can only happen with industry collaboration. Fifty six local producers, performers and artists were pulled in to deliver the glittering night of food, wine and entertainment.
Chefs who mucked in to help prepare and plate up for WK Gala Feast included Peter Koller, Rory King, Sander de Wildt, Bradley Hornby, Ajosh Abraham and Vandeilson Santi. Middle from left Chante Whitetown, Takaki Okada and Fran King, and front from left Matthew Morris, Jacob Partridge and Cameron Miller.
“We couldn’t do it without our mates,” she says. “Four head chefs from around the region have shut up shop to be here tonight, and together with the next generation of chefs have helped pull this thing together. “It’s such a great opportunity for us all to learn and grow and help create a real buzz around Marlborough food.”
Visiting celebrity chef and founder of Eat My Lunch Michael Meredith was thrilled to be invited to take part in Feast Marlborough, and meet the people and hear the stories behind the produce he uses daily.
“Coming from Auckland, where 80 percent of the food we use comes from places like Marlborough, and to see it heroed in a food event like this, is very nice to see,” Michael says.
“To see the salmon from the sounds and the lamb from a local farmer celebrated in this way and working with the supplier and local talent is just wonderful.”
Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith announced the finalists of Marlborough’s first regional dish competition Rare Fare: Saint Clair Family Estate, Highfield TerraVin Vineyard Winery, Arbour and Allan Scott Wines Twelve Trees Restaurant.
Editor of Cuisine Magazine Kelli Brett and Cuisine Magazine food writer Ginny Grant who were in town to explore the region’s food at the weekend, spent Friday touring the winning kitchens and tasting each of the dishes to determine an overall Rare Fare winner, which will be announced in the July edition of the magazine.
Kelli and Cuisine Magazine sales manager Vanessa Stranan bought the magazine from Fairfax in December last year. Kelli says editing the food lovers’ magazine is her “dream job” and she has enjoyed getting stuck in and discovering what Kiwi food is all about.
“The great thing about New Zealand cuisine is we’re not hampered by hundreds of years of tradition, we’re a real melting pot of cultures and nationalities and tastes,” Kelli says.
“We’re not there yet, but as long as we don’t try to be like anyone else and just be brave and stick with the foods and flavours we grew up with, and use this abundance of fresh, great quality produce that’s naturally available, we’ll be well on our way to creating New Zealand’s very own food culture.”
*This article was written by Kat Pickford, and was originally published on the Marlborough App, which you can download here.