Potatoes NZ Inc.
Farewell to the first chipologist
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.