Cook­ing class

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

Mark Grif­fiths makes cook­ing look easy. He chops with the prac­ticed flair of a sea­soned chef, slic­ing and dic­ing so quickly that his stu­dents shove their thumbs in their pock­ets, know­ing the out­come if they tried to copy his skill. Mark was chef lec­turer at AUT for 17 years, and now – as the head chef at The Gourmet Within – he in­spires a con­stant stream of keen food­ies.

Liv­ing on a life­style block in Matakana, with mar­kets within a minute’s stroll of their com­mer­cial kitchen, Mark and part­ner Carmel are sur­rounded by the best lo­cal pro­duce. They cre­ated the Gourmet Within as an out­let to share their pas­sion with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors. They run cook­ing classes where guests ei­ther meet lo­cal pro­duc­ers and learn about their pro­duce or, on Satur­day, head to the mar­ket to se­lect their own ingredients to cook. We spent the day with Mark and Carmel roast­ing a lamb rack, sim­mer­ing soup and prac­tis­ing our purée smear. They de­scribe the kitchen as their “happy place” and it is ap­par­ent that ev­ery­thing is pre­pared with love, al­beit with furrowed brows among the stu­dents. Oh, the pride in sit­ting down to devour a three-course meal, with lamb rack cooked to per­fec­tion and per­fectly poached rhubarb, straight from their home gar­den. Ev­ery­thing has a story: the wine is from their grapes, the olive oil from their trees and the pal­let that makes up the hand-made “chan­de­lier” was left over when the dish­washer was de­liv­ered. It’s hands-on, hand-picked cook­ing at its finest. Book­ings are es­sen­tial and evening classes or pri­vate groups can be ar­ranged. Wed-Sat, 10am-5pm.

989c Matakana Road, 022 167 1500 or 021 160 6701, the

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