The Ques­tion­naire

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What are you plug­ging right now?

The new idea of pair­ing food, not with wine or beer, but with vodka, as we do at the Vodka Room, whether it be a crisp clean clas­sic vodka, any one of our num­ber of house-in­fused vod­kas and cock­tails, or a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the old-world styles like the Kar­ven Starka Vodka which is lo­cally pro­duced, aged in oak bar­rels and in­fused with nat­u­ral botan­i­cals like kawakawa. We have a Rus­sian­in­spired menu which works ex­tremely well with this spirit – think house cured pork belly, vodka in­fused salmon, fer­mented veg­eta­bles, Rus­sian crab bli­nis and of course the brown sugar and mo­lasses pavlova. See you all at Taste of Auck­land! Plug done!

What’s your idea of hap­pi­ness?

Nice house by the beach sur­rounded by like-minded friends and fam­ily, awe­some fish­ing, awe­some surf­ing, vine­yard and mi­cro-brew­ery on site, sun­rises, sun­sets, char­coal cook­ing, un­lim­ited sup­ply of the best meat and pro­duce.

Which liv­ing per­son do you most ad­mire most?

He’s not alive but Billy T James springs to mind. I was only young when watch­ing on TV and [him] hav­ing my fam­ily in hys­ter­ics, the way he joked about both Ma¯ori and Pa¯keha¯ peo­ple, bring­ing peo­ple to­gether as one the way it should be. I think some of our cur­rent politi­cians could take a leaf out of his book. Billy T for Prime Min­is­ter.

What’s your most em­bar­rass­ing mo­ment?

It hap­pened at the first-ever Taste of Auck­land, my first-ever cook­ing demon­stra­tion. I chose to cook a hotsmoked ha­puka dish – dish came out well but I man­aged to smoke out the whole mar­quee!

Ever stolen any­thing?

Yes – lit­tle things, knives, forks, glass­ware to fur­nish flats back in the day.

What do you most dis­like about your body?

Chef’s belly. But I’m cur­rently work­ing on that – try­ing a low-carb diet so I don’t have to miss out on all the tasty stuff

If you could time travel, where would you go and why?

Back to the Far North, where I grew up; but 100 years ago; to go fish­ing, gath­er­ing etc, as it would have just been amaz­ing.

What life les­son will you pass on to your chil­dren?

Just teach them to ap­pre­ci­ate na­ture, be­ing in the out­doors, proper stuff like mak­ing huts, climb­ing trees, camp­ing, na­tive crea­tures, this is ev­ery New Zealan­der’s her­itage and it must be looked after and en­joyed.

What job would you do other than your own and why?

I like gar­den­ing a lot and be­ing cre­ative, so most prob­a­bly some kind of gar­dener/land­scape de­signer.

If you were given three wishes that you could ful­fil by a magic ge­nie, what would they be?

It’s a bit of a cliche but a peace­ful world would be great. No child would ever go hun­gry. To ful­fil my idea of hap­pi­ness.

Mur­ray Wi­b­lin ap­pears at this year’s Taste of Auck­land, Novem­ber 16-19 at West­ern Springs, Auck­land. Tick­ets for the event are avail­able at tas­te­o­fauck­land.co.nz.

The Vodka Room’s Mur­ray Wi­b­lin grew up in the Far North and ap­pre­ci­ates surf, seafood and nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

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