Cafe chat

The Press - Zest - - Hospitality - KIM TR­IE­GAARDT BY KIM TR­IE­GAARDT

Top chefs

Ao­raki Mt Cook Her­mitage Ho­tel ex­ec­u­tive chef Kane Bam­bery and chef de par­tie Chris Walker beat off stiff com­pe­ti­tion to take top spots in the pres­ti­gious Chef of the Re­gion cat­e­gory when they won first and third place, re­spec­tively, at the South­ern Light Salon Culi­naire com­pe­ti­tion. Bam­brey is the national ti­tle holder of the Mon­teith’s Beer and Wild Food Chal­lenge.

Best kept se­cret

It’s not the most ob­vi­ous place to stop for cof­fee, but Ge­or­gio’s Cafe at St Ge­orge’s Hos­pi­tal is well worth a visit. Ger­man man­ager and chef, Natascha Kama Hauf, and Chilean barista Hugo Cam­pos make fresh bagels, Brazil­ian chicken parcels and pita pock­ets daily, as well as sushi and a range of gluten-free del­i­ca­cies. Open Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4.30pm.

Cel­e­brate cheese

Oc­to­ber has been named New Zealand cheese month. The in­au­gu­ral cel­e­bra­tion will see national events, in-store demon­stra­tions, pro­mo­tions and lots of tast­ings. See cheeselovers.co.nz.

Best of the beef

It was a South Is­land dou­ble in this year’s Best of Brand – Re­tail di­vi­sion in the an­nual Steak of Ori­gin com­pe­ti­tion. Bal­ly­hoo­ley Beef from Win­ton, South­land, and Che­viot’s Har­ris Meats came first and sec­ond, re­spec­tively. Mark and Char­lotte Stevens, of Christchurch, came fourth in the Best of Breed – Bri­tish for their an­gus steaks that are pro­cessed at Sil­ver Fern Farms in Belfast. Chris and Karren Bid­dles, from North­land, took the Steak of Ori­gin Grand Cham­pion ti­tle for their an­gus-jersey beef sir­loin en­try.

Spices and flavours

Look­ing for some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent? Learn to cook Nepalese cui­sine with Jenny Gar­ing from Ground. It’s In­dian, but not quite, she says. the les­son costs $75 a per­son in­clud­ing meal, match­ing wines, class and recipes.At the Naval Point Yacht Club, 7pm on May 28. Email info@ground.co.nz to book.

Dou­ble gold

Waitaki Val­ley wine-grow­ers John For­rest, of For­rest Wines, and Jim Jer­ram, of Ostler Wines, are cel­e­brat­ing their gold medal wins at the 2013 Lon­don In­ter­na­tional Wine Chal­lenge. The awards went to the John For­rest Col­lec­tion 2010 Pinot Noir and Ostler Caro­line 2010 Pinot Noir. Con­grat­u­la­tions.

Con­grat­u­la­tions

The win­ner of the Cane Fields Sugar bak­ing pack with ac­ces­sories is Ross Wil­liamson, of Ran­giora.

The win­ners of Waitoa Free Range Chicken fridge mag­nets are Shirley Scott, Les­ley Ruske and Stephanie Gr­bic, of Christchurch; June Man­nix, of Stoke; Iris Nimmo, of Grey­mouth; and Min­nie Sum­mer­field, of Darfield.

Email your Cafe Chat news to zest@press.co.nz.

■It’s a brave per­son that asks for a chance to right a wrong, but MasterChef con­tes­tant Ella Krauts was de­ter­mined to show Ge­orge ex­ec­u­tive chef An­drew Brown she could do a bet­ter job than the one that saw her booted off the re­al­ity cook­ing show.

Con­tes­tants had to repli­cate Brown’s Not So Lemon Meringue Pie but Krauts, who had been con­sis­tently im­press­ing the judges, for­got to add the right sugar to her creme brulee mix­ture.

The mis­take sent her to the bot­tom two and af­ter a sud­den­death fruit crum­ble cook-off she be­came the 12th con­tes­tant from the top 16 to leave the show.

‘‘It’s frus­trat­ing to make the top six and then do that – I made a mis­take and it’s cost me,’’ she says.

Once the emo­tions had set­tled, she phoned Brown and asked him for a job. ‘‘I told him I didn’t do jus­tice to his dish but I’d love the op­por­tu­nity to try again, so could I please come and work for him.’’

Brown agreed to take her on in the kitchen at the Ge­orge and Krauts now works there part time two days a week on breakfasts and lunches. The rest of the week, she’s re­turned to fin­ish her Bach­e­lor of Com­merce de­gree in the food in­dus­try at Lin­coln Univer­sity.

The MasterChef ex­pe­ri­ence proved a turn­ing point for Krauts. She had been about to quit her stud­ies when she saw the ad­ver­tise­ments for the MasterChef au­di­tions.

‘‘Ev­ery­one said just give it a go, even though they were al­ways laugh­ing at my prac­tice ef­forts.’’

The break away from the in­dus­try dur­ing months of film­ing made her re­alise that de­spite the unso­cia­ble life­style hours of a chef, and the hard work, she had al­ways loved food. The ex­pe­ri­ence sim­ply reignited her pas­sion for it, she says. Sta­ples in the fridge But­ter and fresh herbs, I love co­rian­der so I add that to just about ev­ery­thing. It al­ways tastes good and fresh. In the pantry Salt, Sriricha( hot chilli sauce) and things for mak­ing sushi, like sushi rice and nori. Sushi is my favourite food so I make it when­ever I can. Most mem­o­rable meal That would be one week­end when I went with my brother and some friends to a bach in the Coro­man­del and we col­lected scal­lops and caught one tiny fish. I made a seafood chow­der that was so fresh and de­li­cious. We sat and ate it, sit­ting on the deck over­look­ing the beach. My tool kit I have a good sharp knife that I re­ally like and make sure I have with me all the time but what I re­ally, re­ally want is a food pro­ces­sor Last meal cooked at home Lamb stewed with dried fruit and cin­na­mon, served with ginger rice and cauliflower cooked in red wine and co­rian­der seeds. In­spi­ra­tion Th­ese days the in­ter­net is such a huge in­flu­ence in cook­ing. I fol­low lots of food blogs, my two favourites are smittenkitchen.com (Fear­less cook­ing from a tiny kitchen in New York City) and also Welling­ton-based hun­gryandfrozen.com. I’m al­ways look­ing at cook­books and Rick Stein and Annabel Langbein are great in­spi­ra­tions.

Photo David Hal­lett FAIR­FAX/NZ

Turn­ing point: Kitchen du­ties have reignited Ella Krauts’ pas­sion for cook­ing.

At their peak: Kane Bam­bery, right, and chef de par­tie Chris Walker, medal win­ners in the South­ern Light Salon Culi­naire com­pe­ti­tion.

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