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Foraging for the top prize, by Kristin Mooney


Tuesday, August 21, 2018   |   Linda Taylor

When it comes to mealtime at the Rickit household, it’s often the kids in charge - and if 10 year old Oliver has anything to say about it, he’s at the chopping board making lasagne, curries...or shepherd’s pie, a dish he first made at age 6. “I’ve kinda just got it in my blood.” Inspired by his grandfather, who was a chef in the Airforce, Oliver is a shining example of what passion set on fire looks like at a young age. His passion for cooking knows no end, from foraging the local forests for nuts and mushrooms, to perfecting a roux and practicing his knife and presentation skills. Oliver is obsessed with the entire process of making delicious food from scratch. He talks about cooking with a knowledge, maturity and confidence of someone much older.

Oliver is quite clear on his future career, he wants to be a chef. This is what prompted him to enter the Garden to Table Root to Tip cooking competition with his friend Nathan. The competition is designed to get kids inspired to cook creatively with seasonal fruits and vegetables whilst also minimizing waste.When asked what would be his favourite food to make at his restaurant in the future he replied “pizza and flatbreads” without hesitation. Oliver loves watching MasterChef and follows their movements and preparation techniques carefully. His skill has matured to the point where he has gotten the base recipes down pat and is now trying out different combinations of flavours and getting creative.

Read more…

Spring bites, Niki Bezzant


Friday, September 22, 2017   |   Linda Taylor

Niki Bezzant is a Garden to Table ambassador. She is a food and nutrition writer, media commentator and Editor-at-Large of Healthy Food Guide.

Spring has sprung! What are your favourite spring veges?

Read more…

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"author": "Linda Taylor", "authorPictureUrl": "/CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg", "trackbackUrl": "http://www.gardentotable.org.nz/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=11023&PostID=732959&A=Trackback", "url": "/blog/foraging-for-the-top-prize", "title": "Foraging for the top prize, by Kristin Mooney", "postFeaturedImage": "/images/oliver photo.jpg", "metaTitle": "Foraging for the top prize", "metaDescription": "", "body": "

When it comes to mealtime at the Rickit household, it’s often the kids in charge - and if 10 year old Oliver has anything to say about it, he’s at the\n chopping board making lasagne, curries...or shepherd’s pie, a dish he first made at age 6. “I’ve kinda just got it in my blood.” Inspired by his grandfather,\n who was a chef in the Airforce, Oliver is a shining example of what passion set on fire looks like at a young age. His passion for cooking knows no\n end, from foraging the local forests for nuts and mushrooms, to perfecting a roux and practicing his knife and presentation skills. Oliver is obsessed\n with the entire process of making delicious food from scratch. He talks about cooking with a knowledge, maturity and confidence of someone much older.\n

\n

Oliver is quite clear on his future career, he wants to be a chef. This is what prompted him to enter the Garden to Table Root to Tip cooking competition\n with his friend Nathan. The competition is designed to get kids inspired to cook creatively with seasonal fruits and vegetables whilst also minimizing\n waste.When asked what would be his favourite food to make at his restaurant in the future he replied “pizza and flatbreads” without hesitation. Oliver\n loves watching MasterChef and follows their movements and preparation techniques carefully. His skill has matured to the point where he has gotten\n the base recipes down pat and is now trying out different combinations of flavours and getting creative.\n
\n

\n

Supporting him is his entire family, including his Mum Tracy. As a teacher at Hautapu School in Cambridge, she saw an opportunity to nurture Oliver’s love\n of cooking while also contributing to the wider school community, so she established a garden on the school grounds. Together with Oliver’s friend\n Nathan, they grow an impressive variety of vegetables and fruit, including celery, carrots, broccoli, gooseberries, pears, mandarins - and chickens\n to help keep pests down. Managed by the Gardening Club on a small plot, they regularly share the produce with the school.\n
\n

\n

When Oliver entered the Root to Tip competition, Tracy realised this was the start of something bigger when he said “Mum, this is the first step!”\n
\n

\n

As the regional Waikato Root To Tip semi final winners, Oliver and Nathan headed to the national finals in Wellington on 3 August, after wowing the judges\n with their falafel starter and their ‘forager’s loaf’ main, complete with nuts that they did in fact forage for. Their approach leading up to the finals\n was to work on their knife skills and plating - all part of the valuable feedback they received from the judges. What’s Oliver’s top advice for ambitious\n chefs? “If you’re stressed out or forgot something, take a breath.” Valuable advice for anyone we reckon.\n
\n

\n

From Tracy’s perspective, Oliver’s involvement in Garden to Table’s Root to Tip competition has had a big impact on\n the wider family. As a family they are eating more fresh foods, trying new vegetables and ways to prepare them that minimise waste, shopping locally\n and Tracy has been receiving some much needed help in the kitchen! As Tracy puts it, “cooking at a young age is an essential life skill.” She sees\n the effect it has had on Oliver and is reassured that he will grow up to be an adult who can be confident in the kitchen and have a healthy attitude\n towards food.\n
\n

\n

 

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Niki Bezzant is a Garden to Table ambassador. She is a food and nutrition writer, media commentator and Editor-at-Large of Healthy Food Guide.

\n

Spring has sprung! What are your favourite spring veges?

\n

I eat a lot of vegetables, and I don’t like to eat vegetables out of season. But at a certain point late in winter, I get really really bored with eating\n the same winter veges day after day. So I really love those vegetables that burst onto the scene to break us out of the winter drab. The most obvious\n is, of course, asparagus. It’s almost like a countdown to the day asparagus is available (and not $8 a bunch) and then I tend to have a bit of a binge\n on it.

\n

During spring I also start to get back into salads, which I don’t feel like eating much in winter. I usually start with more substantial salads and slaws,\n and then graduate on to leafier things. So that means lovely spring carrots, courgettes, peas and of course, lovely new spring potatoes. And at some\n stage in spring I usually start eating tomatoes, since they taste like tomatoes again!

\n

Do you grow veges yourself?

\n

I live in a city apartment with no outdoor space, so I can’t grow any veges – I have to rely on our talented local growers. There is a small garden at\n our building, though, and so I can pick a few fresh herbs from there.

\n\n

Tell us how you like to prepare your favourite spring veges.

\n

With asparagus I start out by eating them in really simple ways, to celebrate their gorgeousness. I might have a plate of asparagus for dinner, just steamed\n and drizzled with hollandaise. Or spears dipped into boiled eggs, like soldiers. After a while, I start to cook them in more elaborate ways. I love\n asparagus roasted or grilled; it really brings out the sweetness. A little balsamic is nice to add to them. And I’ve recently done a delicious thing\n where you crumb the asparagus spears with a panko and parmesan mix and bake in the oven to make asparagus ‘fries’. They're really good with courgettes,\n too.

\n

With other spring veges, like carrots, I really like to use my trusty julienne peeler (who needs a fancy spiraliser?) and make a pretty slaw, dressed with\n a Japanese-inspired dressing of sesame oil, lemon, soy and mirin. It’s crunchy and sweet and delicious.

\n

What else do you like about spring?

\n

I like the days getting longer, daylight savings starting and the change in the light. There’s also that wonderful promise of summer in the air. And it’s\n lovely to start eating lighter, fresher meals with different flavours.

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