Food & Drinks

Tastes of a Kiwi summer from our favourite foodies

The chefs reveal how they chill and what’s cooking on the family grill!

Annabelle White

Popular foodie Annabelle says a good holiday for her is lazy afternoons, a good book – and Paul Henry!

“A perfect summer break is lazy, languid afternoons with a book and a pillow after some exercise, and bright, sunny mornings with our coffee pot and bird song – simple, but fabulous. It’s also about it being quiet – a chance to catch up with family and friends with the luxury of not looking at your watch.

A family tradition growing up was to stay at Ōhope Beach – we lived near there when I was a child but later went back for summer holidays. I think Ōhope Beach is one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets.

I go away when it’s less busy. My break is often late January or February. I love Te Anau – cold- water swimming in the lake, less people, good food and great bush walks. A few years back, I did the Routeburn Track. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in years!

Catching up with my bestie Paul Henry on his boat Olive is another highlight. We have the perfect relationship as we don’t see each other that often! That’s the secret to long friendships… containing the energy and not overdoing it. Like seasoning a piece of fish: light seasoning and don’t cook for too long.

On board Olive with Paul.

When we get together, there is much laughter and swimming, and he and his wife Diane [Foreman] are the best hosts. You never feel uncomfortable with Paul – you can say and do whatever you like. He makes your world a summery place!

I also have a little place in Waiwera where I store hundreds of cookbooks and make my cooking videos. I have this large blue-and-white-striped nautical chair by the window and I love to read and relax in it after a hot mineral water bath in my backyard. The chair’s popular with the whole family, so first in!

I love getting away, but I get kitchen anxiety after a few days and want to just do this and that with local ingredients. I’m always the food detective, searching out recipes and tips from cooks, to share with others. The notebook and phone camera are always at hand!”

Annabelle’s Greek yoghurt & tahini dip

1 large clove garlic

1 tsp salt

½ tsp liquid honey (optional)

1 cup Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp tahini

Juice of 1 lemon


Chop garlic and place in a serving dish with salt. Add honey and mix well. Now add all the remaining ingredients. mixing well. Cover and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours prior to serving. Serve with grilled mushrooms, baby tomatoes, falafel, olives, grilled peppers, olives and stuffed peppers, or with grilled meats, seafood and roasted veges.

Michael P. Dearth

The owners of Baduzzi and The Grove, which last year was named among TripAdvisor’s 25 best restaurants in the world, Michael Dearth, 54, and his wife Annette, 53, love getting away from it all with the kids.

“The measure of a successful summer for me is how many times I can swim in the ocean! Although I’ve lived in New Zealand for 20 years, I’m originally from the East Coast of the USA, so it’s still really special to have summer at this time of year.

We have a family bach on Rakino Island in the Hauraki Gulf, which is super-special to me, my wife Annette and our kids Ezra, 16, and Lucia, 14. Everything is on solar power and water tank, so it’s a bit like glamping. There aren’t any shops or cafés, so you have to be prepared. There are some epic secret fishing spots and lovely walks.

I do enjoy having a break from the madness of having two wonderful restaurants, but I also take food very seriously. Even on holiday, I like to plan special meals to share with family and friends.

Dining out on the view with Annette, and kids Lucia and Ezra.

Holiday hobbies of mine include reading and gardening. Over the years on Rakino, I’ve planted several fruit trees, avocados, oranges, lemons, nectarines, apricot and plums, as well as feijoa trees. I try to time the harvest of the fruiting trees to when we’re there on holiday.

I also love Central Otago cherries – there’s something very special about having an obscene sized box of cherries, sitting on the beach with your toes in the sand and enjoying crunchy ripe cherries.”

Michael’s top tips

“When we’re on our little bach on Rakino, I love barbecuing on our open fire and depending on the protein, I like to improvise with what’s in the pantry or in my garden. For instance, if I have chicken, I’d do a marinade with lemons, rosemary and thyme, some olive oil, then smash it quickly on the barbecue. If I have pork, I’ll always have an odd bottle of char siu, Chinese barbecue sauce or hoisin sauce with lemongrass, chillies and garlic. One summer, all we did was eat snapper ceviche with a quick marinade of yuzu, shiso, a bit of chilli and garlic.”

Ben Bayly

Executive chef at Ahi, Aosta, Little Aosta, The Bathhouse and Blue Door, and host of TVNZ+ show A New Zealand Food Story and The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes, the 43-year-old goes full traditional Kiwi when he’s on holiday.

“A summer break is where family time meets a New Zealand beach. I have so much gratitude for my great business partners who allow me to completely escape from the relentlessness of owning restaurants.

I’ve learned I must break away and cleanse my brain from restaurant cooking. That’s what I tell my wife anyway! Truth is, I’m often very inspired on holiday and come up with lots of new ideas.

As a kid, we’d always holiday with extended family – grandparents, aunties, uncles and my cousins at Raglan or Whangamatā. Now life has moved up a generation. My dad is Poppa now and always with us, as are my in-laws. My kids and all the cuzzies are running amuck. We’re there in the middle, yelling at the kids, trying to drink a beer, poke the fire and stuffing something barbecued into bread.

Watching the sunset with wife Cara, 44, Ella, 14, Mila, 11, and Bowie, eight.

We have a small piece of land near the beach in Hahei in the Coromandel that we own with my brother Nic and his family. We’ve built a bit of a rugged family campsite with a few caravans, which we love. We have acquired a vintage 1953 Nuffield tractor that we drive up to the shops or put the boat in to go diving.

We (and I mean me!) love the water, boating, surfing, freediving and spearfishing. Depending on which way the wind blows, Hahei is perfect! I’m an ‘active relaxer’. It drives my wife crazy, but the kids love it… I think!

Our holidays look like a current version of the past – the older people have gone before us and new family members have been born. For me, this is a time to be making new memories, reflecting on old ones and pondering the future, because someday soon, I’ll be wearing the grandad shoes, I guess… and I cannot wait!”

Barbecued bananas

“We are simple Kiwi folk and love grilling anything that is slow enough or stupid enough to catch over the fire. The kids also love barbecuing bananas. Slit them down the middle, stuff them with chocolate and chuck in the ashes. Then we spread the soft banana between chocolate wheaten biscuits. They’re like a Kiwi version of s’mores.”

Rewi Spraggon

Hāngī Master Rewi, 50, says January isn’t really a holiday as he’s cooking all the time, but it’s still a family affair.

“What holiday? In January, I’m the person feeding everyone else who is on holiday! This is the busiest time of the year for me, so I usually have a holiday in late February or March. I get so much joy from what I do, though. The kai is so unique and I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces.

January is booked out with weddings, festivals and events, but these days, my sons Julian, 25, and Kawiti, 15, and my daughter Taitiana, 12, all help me with the hāngī along with my wife Kristal, 46. The kids enjoy it – they get pocket money which they always like! Julian is studying but during term time, he also works with me and my team three days a week. We also try to add a couple of days’ break onto wherever I’m cooking too.

On a Kiwi roadie with wife Kristal, and kids (from left) Kawiti, Julian and Taitiana.

I also cook for the homeless, usually feeding around 1000 people a week. Unfortunately, there are a a lot of them – they don’t get a holiday. It’s been a tough year for everyone and with hāngī, cooking for massive numbers isn’t difficult. I just want to do my bit to help.

The kids have grown up learning about hāngī from me, the same way I learned the skill from my father, and my mother’s father before him. When I cook hāngī, I always say my father and grandfather are there with me. All the recipes and techniques of this traditional style of Māori cooking are over 100 years old. I believe it’s my life’s work to get Māori food recognised and normalise hāngī. It’s already available in some restaurants. This year, I’m going to Queenstown where I’m hoping to create a hangi pork burger for Fergburger.”

Watercress toroi

2 litres boiling water

¼ cup salt

2 pots classic marinated mussels

2 bags watercress

2 whole chillies, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 x 1-litre preserving jars

Boil water in a large pot. Add salt and mussels, including the marinade. Boil for 1 minute and set aside. In a separate pot, boil watercress for 5 minutes and drain. Chop mussels into quarters and roughly chop watercress. Mix watercress and mussels in a clean preserving jar, adding chillies and garlic. Top up with water from mussel pot and press down with a knife to remove any bubbles. Screw lid on tight. Once opened, keep refrigerated for up to five days.

Sid & Chand Sahrawat

Owners of The French Café, Cassia, Kol and brand-new pan-Asian fusion addition Anise love a Kiwi barbie

With four Auckland restaurants and two children, Zoya, 12, and Roan, eight, life is busy for head chef Sid, 43. His business manager wife Chand, 38, explains why days off as a family are such a treat.

“I know it’s summer when I can pop into the shops and see corn, watermelon, strawberries and blueberries.

A summer break wouldn’t be complete without a few barbecues, friends over, water balloons and a paddling pool thrown in. A good holiday is when you switch off and truly relax.

Soaking up Sydney with kids Zoya and Roan.

If the holiday is not too busy with activities, I can take a complete break from work and enjoy reading, do nothing by the beach or pool, have massages and drink cocktails. During the year, I have no time for self-care or to devour books.

Usually, our businesses close in summer and we take a family break. Depending on where we’re going, we may take our dog Odin. We love going overseas to Australia or to Bali via Singapore.

If we stay in New Zealand, we go to Hawke’s Bay to spend a few days at Craggy Range.

I’m lucky, I’m not the chef in our relationship and partnership, so while we’re on holiday, I can switch off while I watch Sid taking mental notes as travel inspires and fuels his creativity.”

Indian-style corn on the cob

Remove all the corn husk. Grill corn on a naked flame until all sides are slightly charred. Take a lemon and cut it in half. In a plate or shallow bowl, mix some chaat masala with chilli powder (if you don’t have chaat masala, mix some chilli powder with sea salt). You can leave the chilli out for the kids. Dip the lemon into the dry spice mix, then rub the lemon onto all sides of the corn, slightly squeezing it as you go. Enjoy biting into lemony corn with a spicy zing.

Simon Gault

Former host of TV shows including MasterChef NZ, Why Are We Fat?, Chef On a Mission and more, Wheels of Health coach and owner of Gault’s Deli, holidays for Simon, 58, mean time with his daughter, Hazel, 10

“Before becoming a dad, a holiday involved soaring in my sailplane or performing aerobatics in powered planes. But since Hazel, especially now she’s 10, the greatest joy I find is in quality time with her. I’m always hoping for the day she turns to me and says, ‘Hey, Dad, can we go flying?’

Simon and Hazel will be making a splash in the Gold Coast.

This January, I’m closing Gault’s Deli for the month for some cherished father-daughter moments with Hazel. I’m excited about making the most of my garden and barbecue, weather permitting. I plan to embrace a farm-to-table approach in my backyard and experiment with new dishes, and to showcase my culinary experiments on my YouTube channel.

After Christmas, I often joke that it requires a run equivalent to the energy of a fully charged Fiat 500 electric car to maintain my figure! We’ve gone camping after the festivities for the past three years. This year, we’ve decided to stay home for a while, before heading to the Gold Coast, where I’m looking forward to unleashing my inner big kid and joining Hazel at the fun and water parks!

Avoiding work isn’t an option for me as I run my own business – Gault’s Deli is a cooking school, a shop, and a place where people can come and taste all sorts of food. But I consider myself incredibly fortunate because my job revolves around food. I have a deep passion for it and my mind is constantly in that space, always looking for something new and exciting to offer my deli customers. It’s a tough job, but hey, someone’s got to do it!”

Smoked chipotle ginger mussels

“This recipe has a special significance in my home and is a tradition reserved for special occasions. Gathering mussels with my dad as a kid is a deeply cherished memory. Over time, this dish has become a crowd favourite in my restaurants and it’s surprisingly easy to prepare. My 2024 resolution is to introduce Hazel to the joy I experienced as a kid foraging for mussels with my dad. I’m hopeful this experience will become as treasured a memory for her as it is for me.”

2 cups white wine

½ onion, sliced

1 kg live green-lipped mussels

80g (2/3 cup) butter

5cm piece of ginger, peeled, finely grated (retain the juice)

1 tbsp Tabasco Smoked Chipotle Pepper sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Your favourite artisanal bread (for mopping up the rich sauce)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine white wine and sliced onion. Cook, covered, until the onion is translucent. Add mussels, cover again, and steam. Remove mussels as they open and discard any that remain shut. Place opened mussels in a bowl with two tablespoons of the cooking liquid to cool. Remove “beard” and “tongue” from each mussel. Melt butter on low heat. Stir in grated ginger with its juice and Tabasco sauce. Adjust spiciness as desired. Add mussels and their juice to the butter sauce. Gently reheat until hot, avoiding overcooking. Stir in chopped parsley and serve immediately with bread.

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