Cook­ing up Play­cen­tre funds

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael

Five women with nine chil­dren be­tween them, 59 recipes, 100 pages, 500 copies, six months and a labour of love.

It’s Our Vil­lage Pantry, a book of tried-and-true fam­ily recipes lov­ingly col­lated and beau­ti­fully put to­gether by a team of par­ents at Taupo¯ Fam­ily Play­cen­tre.

Launched last Fri­day at spon­sor Chef’s Com­ple­ments, the book has been pro­duced as a fundrais­ing project, with pro­ceeds go­ing to­wards ed­u­ca­tional re­sources.

The project came about af­ter a par­ent brought a sim­i­lar book to a Play­cen­tre ses­sion.

Clare Ste­wart, one of the mem­bers of the project team, says those at the ses­sion thought they could do some­thing sim­i­lar to pro­vide a book of good fam­ily food that looked stylish, but had recipes that were tried and true.

“We prob­a­bly didn’t re­ally re­alise what we were get­ting our­selves into and it grew from there.”

The five-wo­man team that ran the book project all had com­ple­men­tary skills, from run­ning busi­nesses to graphic de­sign and pho­tog­ra­phy and prod­uct man­age­ment.

They kicked off by defin­ing what they wanted, then com­ing up with recipe guide­lines. Play­cen­tre mem­bers, grand­par­ents and fam­ily and friends sup­plied recipes from their col­lec­tions and fam­ily archives and the team kept col­lect­ing un­til they had come up with a suit­able cross sec­tion of tasty treats and fam­ily meals.

Ev­ery recipe is ac­com­pa­nied by a pho­to­graph, and or­gan­is­ing and hold­ing the photo shoots was the most labour-in­ten­sive part. Child­care had to be or­gan­ised, all the styling el­e­ments for each pic­ture dreamed up and se­cured, the food pre­pared, props or­gan­ised and the pho­tographs taken.

Team pho­tog­ra­pher Judy Deighton says the project was a huge learn­ing curve for every­one.

“None of us have been ed­i­tors or book cre­ators and I hadn’t done food pho­tog­ra­phy . . . it was a bit scary but we nailed it and we’re re­ally proud.”

She says what made it work was be­ing or­gan­ised, hav­ing a time­line and stick­ing to it and ev­ery­body play­ing their part.

“Our shoot days were 12-hour days . . . we would all com­mit to it and no­body would say ‘I have to go soon’. We had the kids sorted and we got it done.”

Play­cen­tre mem­bers pre­pared the food each shoot day and got it to the team and a lot of jug­gling of child­care went on to get ev­ery­thing com­pleted.

Pos­si­bly the most en­joy­able part was that the team per­son­ally tested all the recipes, ei­ther by mak­ing them or by peo­ple bring­ing them in to be sam­pled, although the styling was also a high­light.

“The styling was very ad­dic­tive,” con­fesses Clare. “I said to the girls ev­ery time we had a shoot com­ing up we would be look­ing at each other’s pantries or we would be shop­ping and see some­thing that would be good in a photo.”

The look the team was go­ing for was classy, clean and mod­ern with easy to cook recipes they hope will be pop­u­lar with the com­mu­nity.

“We didn’t want to just tar­get mums of young kids at Play­cen­tre, we wanted to bring it out in time for Christ­mas . . . at $25 we thought it would be a great Christ­mas present for grand­par­ents.”

The book’s sec­tions are bak­ing, any­time (lunch meals, smooth­ies and the like), din­ner, dessert and pantry essen­tials such as aioli, jam and chut­ney, and while there’s plenty of nu­tri­tious home cook­ing, there’s also a few treats.

The print­ing was the most ex­pen­sive as­pect and they were grate­ful for the sup­port of Chef’s Com­ple­ments with the cost.

■ Our Vil­lage Pantry can be bought for $25 at Chef’s Com­ple­ments and through the Face­book page Our Vil­lage Pantry, and posted for an ex­tra cost of $5.

Photo / Sup­plied

The creative team be­hind the Our Vil­lage Pantry fundrais­ing cook­book. From left: Sarah Fraser, Odette Arthurs, Jem Gre­gory, Clare Ste­wart and Judy Deighton.

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