The Good Life – part 2

words Denise Irvine, Images Brydie Thompson

Wayne Good has made plum cake for afternoon tea, a soft fruity beauty using his own Luisa plums and eggs from his chooks. It is the taste of summer, served with thick, decadent clotted cream.

Wayne makes the clotted cream with milk from cows on the farm near his home, and he gives a quick rundown on the method: “Heat a saucepan of milk to 80 degrees Celsius, switch it off, place a round of baking paper over the milk (but not the lid), leave it to cool on the stove, refrigerate overnight, in the morning peel off the paper and a thick layer of clotted cream will be stuck to it.”

It’s perfect with the cake, and Wayne also uses it in sauces, scrambled eggs and quiche.

Pretty much everything he eats – eggs, fruit, vegetables, herbs and condiments – comes from the 1ha property at Gordonton, near Hamilton, where he has lived for nearly three and a half years. “I also make my own bread but I just can’t eat the animals from around here. I have to buy meat elsewhere.”

Wayne is a trained chef, his business is Arkanda Living & Antiques, and under its broad umbrella he runs an annual series of sell-out culinary demos in his kitchen; leads small group tours to France, Spain and Portugal; and has an antiques barn adjacent to his home, stacked with collectables – furniture, fine china, art, mirrors, crystal, and other furnishings – sourced at estate sales, auctions and similar. He is committed to the notion of sustainable living, of avoiding waste, and recycling and repurposing.

Wayne has previously offered an Arkanda interior design service, but he’s recently sidelined that after 28 years and has filled the gap by catering for private dinner parties. And for something entirely different, he has a regular afternoon gig in the cowshed on the farm where the milk for the clotted cream comes from. “I do what makes me happy.”

So welcome to The Good Life, Part II: Nourish is revisiting Wayne after an earlier story (Nourish, Summer 2020) when he relocated a tiny cottage to Gordonton, opened the antiques barn and moved from town to country.

Back then he would never have dreamed of being in a cowshed each day,  spending untold hours on a ride-on mower taming his large lawn, owning 21 Indian runner ducks, harbouring a broody hen under his tomato plants, having three goats over the back fence ( Betty, Bertie and Gertie), and being woken each morning by George the resident rooster.

To recap briefly, Wayne’s home is a 1940s weatherboard cottage, originally from the old RNZAF Station Hobsonville, near Auckland. He found the cottage in a house-mover’s yard. It was a wreck, it cost him $1, and it was trucked to its present site just before New Zealand’s first nationwide Coronavirus lockdown in March 2020. It has since been refurbished, judiciously extended and is now 80sqm and filled with his favourite collectables. Every inch of usable space is occupied by something beautiful.

“Things cycle in and out of the barn and home. I’ll buy something for the antiques barn and then move it across to the house. But I have a strict policy of one in, one out.”

In his small kitchen, Wayne’s gone for the French tradition of using cabinets, dressers and curtained cupboards for storage rather than the typical fitted New Zealand kitchen. He’s recently added a 17th century English gentleman’s chest to the cabinetry and it now holds cutlery and other items.

Wayne hosts his culinary demos here and last year there were 400 enrolments for his Christmas classes. Other demos cover French and South East Asian cuisines, high tea, and New Zealand and European favourites. This year he’s adding a class on northern Indian cuisine, known for its biryani, palak paneer, saag, samosas, pakora, and use of aromatic spices.

He’s recently had the pleasure of learning to make pakora (spicy vegetable fritters) with a friend of Indian heritage. “There was no recipe, we cooked together and I took pages of notes. Now I make the best pakora, and a really good dahl, and paneer and potato curry [see recipe here].” The new food focus ties in neatly with Wayne’s plans to take a tour group to India next year.

Wayne is similarly enjoying the dinner parties he caters for in private homes: there is a minimum of eight people, maximum of 20, and for the bigger events he has Hamilton chef Ashleigh Brodie to work with him.

Menu options are discussed with the hosts, and the $125 per head cost covers a platter for pre-dinner drinks, and a three-course meal. “We cook, serve, clean up and disappear. I don’t do picture-perfect plates; it is beautiful, wholesome, seasonal food and everything is made from scratch.”

He’s just signed off a dinner menu starting with prawns served with green leaves, coconut shards and Vietnamese dressing; whole eye fillet with truffle and red wine jus; and lemon posset with tuile biscuits and fresh raspberries. “There will be a salad with lots of fresh herbs because this client loves herbs.”

We finish our plum cake and cream, head outside to meet the menagerie of chooks, ducks, goats, pigs and cows, admire the abundant garden, and I’m coveting a few pieces in the antiques barn.

“I love my life,” says Wayne, as he seamlessly points out the broody hen under the tomatoes and a stunning collection of English Mason’s Regency china in the barn. “I feel grateful every day that I’m here, doing what I want to do.”

You could say it’s a good life!


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