“Another bloody cookbook!” This was the reaction from Tui Flower, one of New Zealand’s most iconic food writer,s when she heard about The Great New Zealand Cookbook. And although I don’t have anywhere near as much experience in the industry as Tui, I can completely understand where she was coming from.
For our population New Zealand produces an amazing amount of cookbooks each year! Many of them come across my desk, but sadly most never make it to the kitchen or beyond the growing pile in the corner of my office. So when The Great New Zealand Cookbook arrived on my doorstep, I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to have a peruse. One hour later and with a huge smile on my face I got to the end of it, only to want to go back to the beginning with some bookmarks and to list the recipes I wanted to try.
This book is a tome of New Zealand food. The 400 plus pages, include 190 recipes from 80 of our countries best chefs, cooks and bakers from across the country. It’s a glorious and fun read as you get a snapshot into these people’s lives and their culinary inspiration.
Unlike most collaborative books with chefs which recipes are only for the advanced or adventurous cook, the recipes in The Great New Zealand Cookbook are more often than not those classics that evoke memories or tell a story of what real Kiwi food is. This makes for not only an enjoyable read but a cookbook of recipes you know you will cook, from Alison Holst’s Pavlova or Piklet recipes to Josh Emmet’s Agria Potato & Celeriac Gratin.
The books creator, Murray Thom and Tim Harper, are the duo behind the very successful Great New Zealand Songbook. Murray Thom says, “Travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand made us realise afresh just how privileged we are to live in such a beautiful country. We battled storms and road closures but any inconvenience was completely eclipsed by many serendipitous moments, such as the tranquility of whitebaiting at dawn or the solitude of hunting in the bush at sunset.”
Alongside photographer Lottie Hedley and videographer Hayley Thom, Thom and Harper travelled for nine months to capture the flavours of New Zealand. “It was an honour to meet such hard-working, dedicated people whose greatest joy is to share their food, prepared with passion and commitment and served with such love and care,” says Thom. “From oyster fishing in Bluff and deer hunting in Mourea to fish and chips on the wharf in Mangonui, everywhere we went we were met with huge generosity and warmth and we were welcomed onto boats and into restaurants, cafés and family homes.”
Legendary artist Dick Frizzell was commissioned to create original artwork for the front and back cover of the book, bringing his distinctive perspective to the humble kiwi tea towel. The Great New Zealand Cookbook benefits kiwi charity KidsCan, which will receive a portion of the proceeds to fund a new initiative that will expand their ‘Food for Kids’ programme through the establishment of KidsCan Orchards in schools.
I can’t recommend this book more. It is akin to the Edmonds Cookbook a compulsory addition to every Kiwi household.
Published by PQ Blackwell, The Great New Zealand Cookbook is available where all good books are sold. RRP$49.95