THE MAIN IN­GRE­DI­ENT

Kelli Brett on the re­cent International Food De­sign Con­fer­ence

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

THE FOOD DE­SIGN In­sti­tute at Otago Poly­tech­nic in Dunedin re­cently pre­sented what has to have been one of the most stim­u­lat­ing and chal­leng­ing three days of ideas ever held in the food world. The International Food De­sign Con­fer­ence and Stu­dio 2016 show­cased the bril­liance of the minds be­hind the Food De­sign In­sti­tute and their en­gage­ment with their stu­dents. I was lucky enough to at­tend, along with food writer Lau­raine Ja­cobs and Cui­sine se­nior food writer Ginny Grant, and asked them to share the wow fac­tor...

LAU­RAINE JA­COBS

Di­rect from Nige­ria, although raised and ed­u­cated in the United States, chef Michael Elegbedé shared his vi­sion for the new project he is cre­at­ing in his birth coun­try: a mod­ern restau­rant where tra­di­tional Nige­rian foods and in­gre­di­ents, sourced from small farm­ers, will be shaped into a new form of high-end cui­sine. His words of wis­dom: “In Nige­ria they cook stew just to eat. It should mean more than that.” michaelelegbede.com

Truf­fles, ice cream, mod­ern Māori food, south­ern seafood, cof­fee, raw food de­sign, cock­tails, bit­ter foods and even ec­cen­tric sub­jects such as match­stick de­sign were dis­cussed and de­bated. But it was on the third day that I re­alised just how much of the real New Zealand food scene I had missed in my 30 years of a food-writ­ing ca­reer. Manaak­i­tanga is at the heart of our unique way of eat­ing and en­ter­tain­ing. I had never heard this term be­fore, or if I had, noone had ex­plained it. Manaaki sim­ply means to show re­spect for, and this is in­her­ently part of all Māori feast­ing. Adding the suf­fix -tanga makes it a noun, so manaak­i­tanga means the process of show­ing re­spect for oth­ers, and is often trans­lated as hospi­tal­ity. I was en­tranced by the hāngi work­shop, where we dis­cussed manaaki and then pulled won­der­ful tītī (mut­ton­bird) wrapped in thick, fresh sea kelp from the steam­ing pit, as well as the work­shop pre­sented by Hi­akai, a mod­ern Māori food project. The fi­nal day’s brown-bag lunch of pork and ku­mara sand­wiches and lit­tle sweet dough­nuts was in­spired by a stu­dent’s mem­o­ries of his marae lunches. As I winged my way home north, I felt de­ter­mined to em­brace the manaak­i­tanga in my life and spread and share all those de­li­cious words I had heard and learned. Taea kai. lau­raine­ja­cobs.co.nz

GINNY GRANT

Dutch food de­signer Mar­ije Vo­gelzang ex­plored the in­ter­play of con­text and cul­ture – I loved the idea of her jewellery work­shops for chil­dren us­ing veg­eta­bles to make ear­rings, bracelets and the like to en­cour­age eat­ing a va­ri­ety of foods. The video of her in­stal­la­tion piece about the Roma gypsy women of Bu­dapest feed­ing other women through a cur­tain, while telling sto­ries of their child­hood, moved me to tears. mar­i­jevo­gelzang.nl

Peter Lang­lands’ for­ag­ing work­shop and his huge depth of knowl­edge – not only in plant-based ed­i­bles but also our kaimoana and birdlife – was truly awein­spir­ing. wild-cap­ture.blogspot.co.nz

Another high­light was at­tend­ing Monique Fiso and Kane Bam­bery’s Hi­akai pop-up din­ner at Bracken (I’m still dream­ing of their paua bar­ley risotto), and also their work­shop, after which they talked about their ex­pe­ri­ences grow­ing up as ur­ban Māori and their grow­ing con­nec­tion to tra­di­tional foods. hi­akai.co.nz As for me, since be­ing in New Zealand, I’ve been try­ing to find the words that make New Zealand food unique. Chef Al Brown wrapped up the last day of the con­fer­ence with a nos­tal­gic trip back through the na­tional pride and joy in bak­ing and pre­serv­ing, and the evolv­ing knowl­edge of flavour and tex­ture. My take-away from Al’s grounded and per­cep­tive con­ver­sa­tion are two words: “flavour vol­ume”. New Zealand has the flavour vol­ume turned up.

We were all blown away by the en­tire pack­age, from the pre­sen­ta­tions, lec­tures and work­shops, to the shared meals with like-minded food ob­ses­sives at pop-up din­ners around the city. All the way through there was an in­cred­i­ble syn­ergy be­tween the stu­dents and the par­tic­i­pants, led by pas­sion­ate or­gan­iser Pro­fes­sor Richard Mitchell from the Otago Poly­tech­nic Food De­sign In­sti­tute (see Eat & Greet, page 58).

If you have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend the next International Food De­sign Con­fer­ence, do it! It’s for any­one who wants to un­der­stand “food on another level”, as Lau­raine Ja­cobs elo­quently de­scribed it. food­de­sign.org.nz

TOP Nige­rian-Amer­i­can chef Michael Elegbedé led a work­shop on Nige­rian cui­sine

ABOVE The hāngi work­shop was another high­light

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