Po­ta­toes NZ Inc.

Farewell to the first chipol­o­gist

NZ Grower - - Contents - By Gemma Car­roll CHRIS CLARIDGE Chief Ex­ec­u­tive

Along­side The Min­istry of Health and PNZ’s Chip Group, Kate has helped de­velop and im­ple­ment a fun and free train­ing course for chip cooks around the coun­try. Her work has seen her travel from the Far North, to the deep south, vis­it­ing in­di­vid­ual take­away shops, com­mu­nity groups, marae, sports clubs, cater­ers and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. She has spread the mes­sage of mak­ing a health­ier chip far and wide.

Kate has worked for PNZ since her ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in nu­tri­tion and it seemed her six years of ser­vice to our as­so­ci­a­tion, grow­ers, sup­pli­ers and con­sumers of po­ta­toes, de­served a lit­tle cel­e­bra­tion with the fol­low­ing ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion. Tell me about your be­gin­nings with Po­ta­toes NZ? I started writ­ing ar­ti­cles and do­ing con­tract work for PNZ back in 2011 and then I ap­plied for the role of train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion man­ager for The Chip Group in May 2012. It was quite un­canny as I re­mem­ber hear­ing about the con­cept at one of my lec­tures dur­ing my fi­nal year of uni­ver­sity. I have worked be­tween The Chip Group and PNZ since then. It’s cer­tainly been a wild chip and spud-laden ride. What’s your spe­cial­ist area when it comes to po­ta­toes? I would say my un­der­stand­ing of the chip in­dus­try – from pad­dock to wrap­per - and how each step can have an im­pact the fi­nal prod­uct. Cook­ing tech­nique is hugely im­por­tant when it comes to chips and af­ter tak­ing hun­dreds of peo­ple through our course I’d like to think of my­self as be­ing able to cook a good chip. Some­one once dubbed me the chipol­o­gist so I’ll claim that. Af­ter eat­ing my fair

share, I’d say I’m also a pretty good judge of what cer­ti­fies a good and not so good chip.

What have you en­joyed most in your work for PNZ and The Chip Group?

The wide va­ri­ety of peo­ple I have met, trained and come into con­tact with. Con­nect­ing with in­di­vid­u­als from a range of dif­fer­ent back­grounds, eth­nic­i­ties, in­dus­tries and busi­nesses has been hugely re­ward­ing, par­tic­u­larly ed­u­cat­ing and em­pow­er­ing small busi­nesses with knowl­edge and tools they can use to grow. I would also say dis­pelling peo­ple’s mis­con­cep­tions about po­ta­toes and chips. So many peo­ple still think that po­ta­toes are the “bad guy” but spuds have so much to of­fer and are com­pletely un­der­rated. Eat­ing my fair share of hot chips hasn’t been all that bad ei­ther!

What do you feel most proud of in the work you have done with PNZ?

Play­ing my small part in the mis­sion to im­prove New Zealan­ders’ health and equally in sup­port­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the hard-work­ing ef­forts of our NZ spud grow­ers. Within the Chip Group specif­i­cally it’s been the chance to em­power peo­ple with skills when they may not have had ac­cess to the science of deep fry­ing po­ta­toes. I’m proud of help­ing them to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of their ac­tions af­fect­ing their cus­tomers’ health. Essen­tially I help them make small changes to the way they cook, to not only im­prove their busi­ness, but also to play a role in the health of their com­mu­nity.

Your de­gree was in nu­tri­tion, do you see that in­flu­enc­ing your next ca­reer steps?

Ab­so­lutely. I am and al­ways have been su­per-pas­sion­ate about all things food, par­tic­u­larly within the nu­tri­tion/ ed­u­ca­tion realm. I hope to con­tinue be­ing in­volved in this space in my fu­ture ca­reer. The health in­dus­try is con­stantly evolv­ing – by re­mov­ing guilt, rules and pre-con­ceived ideas of what health looks like, I be­lieve we can lead a well­bal­anced life, with room for the good stuff, like hot chips and crispy duck-fat roasted po­ta­toes.

Where to next?

I am tak­ing a year to do some world travel and delve fur­ther into food writ­ing through my busi­ness, Rel­ish the Mem­ory. I will likely look at op­por­tu­ni­ties to work over­seas. I’m also par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about cel­e­brat­ing NZ’s food cul­ture and help­ing show­case that to the rest of the world, so you haven’t heard the last of me.

I have thor­oughly en­joyed be­ing in­volved in such a unique in­dus­try – the re­sult of highly pas­sion­ate, hard-work­ing peo­ple, who en­sure New Zealan­ders en­joy the very best home-grown po­ta­toes.

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