The wood fired oven is the heart of our kitchen at The Falls Retreat. Built by hand using guidelines from The Shed magazine, help from friends and family and tips and advice picked up along the way, it was a labour of love. It has stood the test of time and over the years it has pumped out thousands of meals. It’s a good oven to work with—I can always see what’s in there as there is no door on during service and it’s in my line of vision. It can do everything a conventional oven can do. On our current menu, we use it to sear lamb and beef fillets, slow roast lamb rump, bake bread and reheat accompaniments. But our wood fired oven’s biggest achievement has to be the hundreds of pizzas it produces, with fresh produce grown in the kitchen veggie gardens being used in the seasonally changing toppings.

Bistro Chicken Pizza – Serves 8

This is a twist on a classic pizza using our home made apricot chutney on the base, rather than a traditional tomato sugo. The salsa and chutney can be prepared in advanced and used for other recipes.

 Roasted Red Pepper, Cornichon & Jalapeno Salsa

125g roasted red peppers (tinned variety)

20g cornichons, drained and thinly sliced

15g capers, drained and roughly chopped

40g pitted black Kalamata olives, finely sliced

20g jalapenos, finely chopped

100g sundried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped

¼ cup curly parsley, finely chopped

2 tsp chives, finely chopped

Put all ingredients into a large bowl and mix till well combined. Please ensure all products from jars are drained thoroughly.


Apricot & Apple Chutney

1 medium red onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

70g ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp finely chopped thyme

350g caster sugar

400ml white wine vinegar

800g apricots, halved (tinned in clear juice can be used, drained = 3 x 410g tins)

200g medium Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced


Place first 9 ingredients into a large heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes and then add apricots and apples and keep reducing at a medium simmer for 45–50 minutes until it becomes a thick consistency.

Add a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper.

Pour into a suitable container and let cool for 30 minutes then place covered into a fridge and chill for 24 hours


To make the pizza

1 pizza base (for Brad’s recipe go to our website)

3 tbsp apricot and apple chutney

90g grated mozzarella

110g cooked chicken breast
1 zucchini, thinly sliced

3 tbsp roasted red pepper, cornichon and jalapeno salsa


Firstly, smear apricot chutney evenly over the pizza base. Sprinkle grated mozzarella over the chutney then lay over zucchini, followed by chicken. Add the salsa then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Remember: less is more, you don’t want to overload the pizza!

Cook in the oven until crispy and golden. In a wood fired oven heated to the correct temperature, this should only take around 4 minutes.

Tip: to help manoeuvre the pizza into the wood oven, use a dusting of semolina on your paddle, as this acts like a marble, helping to move the base around.

(Cooking will be longer in a conventional oven, around 7–10 minutes. Use a preheated baking tray or stone.)



Temperature control:

The skill in wood fired cooking is all about how to control the temperature without turning a knob. As we use our oven on a daily basis, our temperature remains pretty consistent, but for weekend users, make sure you give your oven plenty of time to warm up before you start cooking. Get yourself an infra-red thermometer to take the guess work out of it.



The type of wood used is also important as it can impart flavours into the food. Any hard wood is ideal. We use a mix of manuka and kanuka, and fruit trees if we can get hold of any.



Place wood in the centre of the oven, make fire and burn till it starts to bloom (when the inside of oven starts to turn white). Then move the wood to one side (we change the side the wood burns on, on a weekly basis) to make sure our oven temperature remains even.

Slowly add wood to keep the fire burning and temperature consistent.

Once cooking has finished, let it die down and spread embers before putting on the door at end of day.

Brad King

“Gather” at The Falls Retreat

Experience a “behind the scenes” personal tour of the property encompassing veggie gardens, chicken coop, and extensive grounds, taking in an amazing view of Owharoa Falls. This is an opportunity to gather ingredients and learn about how fresh seasonal produce is used from the paddock to plate, followed by a delicious two course lunch.


Available Fridays & Saturdays through Spring.

$95pp includes; morning tea, personal garden tour, two course lunch.

Bookings essential!  Email –

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