Wild Thing

Fam­ily recipe favourites, with a rus­tic touch, from An­gelo Ge­or­galli.

North & South - - Photo Essay -

Arestau­ra­teur and chef for 25 years, Wanaka res­i­dent An­gelo Ge­or­galli leapt at the chance to star in his own TV show when a pro­ducer ap­proached him a few years ago. Given his love of bow hunt­ing and fly fish­ing, a “catch and cook show” set in the South Is­land was an ir­re­sistible propo­si­tion.

There was just one snag. Ge­or­galli couldn’t source a suit­able kitchen lo­cally – “ide­ally one with views” – in which to shoot. Then it hit him: why not take the kitchen out­side?

“I said, ‘Let’s just drive some­where re­mote and I’ll cook on my bar­be­cue.’ And it turned out to be bril­liant!”

Since The Game Chef went to air here on TV One in 2015, it’s been shown in 90 other coun­tries. An epony­mous cook­book swiftly fol­lowed. And while seafood is the star of his new show, An­gelo’s Out­door Kitchen, due to screen later this year, the fo­cus of his lat­est cook­book is firmly on whanau.

An­gelo’s Wild Kitchen: Favourite Fam­ily Recipes is “how I cook nor­mally, at home”, says Ge­or­galli, who, with his wife Stephanie, has three hun­gry mouths to feed: Luca, 14, Os­car, 12, and Lu­cia, 10. His “healthy, real, un­pro­cessed” food spans all meals and mul­ti­ple eth­nic­i­ties, in­clud­ing Ge­or­galli’s own her­itage. (His fa­ther is a Greek Cypriot; his mother, Ital­ian.)

“I’ve got no bound­aries when it comes to food; I love try­ing new things and ex­per­i­ment­ing. I en­joy my her­itage and al­ways try to put a twist on it.”

The 46-year- old also wanted to in­clude gluten-free and re­duced­sugar recipes to re­flect his own change of diet, which saw him shed 22kg over nine months last year. He cred­its the weight loss for mak­ing him “more ac­tive” and hav­ing fewer “aches and pains” while travers­ing the ter­rain dur­ing out­door pur­suits. (He’s re­cently taken up horserid­ing and bought a Mon­go­lian horse­bow to try out.)

He’s rapt to be liv­ing the lifestyle his fa­ther wanted for his four boys when they moved from Glas­gow, where Ge­or­galli was born, to a farm on Cyprus. The dream was cut short when the Turks in­vaded in 1974; their land lost, the fam­ily headed back to the UK.

Dyslexic and dis­en­chanted with school, Ge­or­galli left at 14 to work in his un­cle’s Greek del­i­catessen in Lon­don. In his early 20s, he be­came the ul­ti­mate OE sou­venir when Stephanie took him home to Auck­land. He worked at a num­ber of es­tab­lished restau­rants, and then had a crack at es­tab­lish­ing his own. In 2007, the fam­ily spent a year in Tus­cany in a 16th- cen­tury house among olive groves (“it redi­rected my life; all I did was archery and cook­ing”). On re­turn­ing home, they sold up and took on “a run­down farm” in Matakana, north of Auck­land. When Ge­or­galli bought a new dig­ger, he had to ask the de­liv­erer to park it in the barn for him, be­cause he’d never driven one be­fore. But by 2013, “it was time for a new chal­lenge”.

A friend sug­gested Wanaka. Within weeks of their first visit, they moved south, and the cou­ple now run a lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­ness, Cardrona Val­ley Lodge.

“I can just pop out­side my back door, which backs onto 2500 acres of moun­tain pad­docks,” he says. “I’m out­side most of the time. I’d rather be out­side than in.” STACEY ANYAN

An­gelo Ge­or­galli (stand­ing), and friends in Wanaka.

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