A chat with... KELDA HAINS
A star of the Wellington food scene, chef and keen gardener Kelda Hains has made a name for herself as the owner of Nikau Café, as well as the recently opened restaurant Rita. Now she is sharing her secrets in a new cookbook featuring some of her most pop
Q What makes your cookbook different? I wanted to interpret well-loved Nikau dishes for the home cook. I’ve given little tips and tricks from a professional kitchen to help people access great but simple flavours. Q Your cooking is informed by a love of gardening – what homegrown produce do you love to cook with at this time? In November, peas, broad beans and artichokes; in December, zucchini flowers, gooseberries, new potatoes and raspberries – so much potential. Q What would you say is the key ingredient for a truly great Christmas? I live in Wellington, so a still day is a blessing. ‘If you think of it as a fun game, ar ther than an obligation, that’s half the battle’ Q Can you share your top tip for getting through the festive season calmly? Simplicity. Pare it back. Sanity for the cook is everything. Q What three ingredients can you not do without at this time of year? Lamb, fresh goat’s cheese and preserved lemons. Q What is the one dish you make that is guaranteed to please on Christmas Day? I do love a summer pudding – in my garden, currants and raspberries seem to ripen at exactly the right time for the 25th. It’s cool and refreshing, and best made a day ahead, so it is perfect for Christmas Day. Q Can you share tips for using up leftovers? Using what we have on hand is one of the first criteria we have to consider when designing a menu at Nikau. It creates interesting design constraints. If you think of it as a fun game, rather than an obligation, that’s half the battle. Q What’s your favourite summer holiday destination? My backyard garden. It’s pretty wonderful to reconnect with home after a crazy busy December at the café.
Nikau Café by Kelda Hains (self published), $60, will be available in bookstores from mid-november.