Taste of Auckland: tasting plates delivered.


Last Thursday, I had a deadline looming, the delivery of 200 plates to Taste of Auckland, for the Corporate Dinner, in the Hospitality Marquee, at the request of Chef Giulio Sturla, Owner of Roots Restaurant, Lyttleton.

Roots Restaurant was Restaurant of the Year 2015, and is the only restaurant outside of Auckland to have Three Hats, the highest rating in New Zealand, presented this year at the Cuisine Awards.

So, some quick decisions, as I had just over three weeks to deliver. I purchased the right gear, and along with a sick infant, a lot of hard work and a couple of late nights, I pulled it off.

Giulio was very pleased and thankful. The news show, Seven Sharp, the show after One News, featured a few chefs, including Giulio, at Taste of   Auckland. My plates made it onto prime time television, gorgeously presented with some Koura. Wow.

The future looks bright and very busy. Upcoming, on December 4th, I will be at the Auckland Fair, Shed 10, on Auckland’s Waterfront. See you there!

My first magazine feature after only nine months!

Thank you very much to everyone who loves my products, mortar and pestles, bowls, salt and pepper bowls, salt pinch bowls, plates. My first feature, is in Cuisine Magazine, New Zealand. Wow. Thank you.  I had could have never imagined that I would have so much support. Especially from some of New Zealand’s top restaurants, Roots Restaurant, Lyttleton, winner of best restaurant 2015, for all of New Zealand, and also holder of 3 Hats, the top rating in our country. Bistronomy Restaurant, Napier, O’Connell Street Bistro, Central Auckland, Micks Restaurant, Orewa and I pending on December first, Malo Restaurant, in 5 star boutique hotel, Porters, in Havelock North; these restaurants have all commissioned work by myself, such a great feeling.

May the good work continue, my current project is crafting 200 plates for Taste of Auckland. Giulio Sturla, owner of Roots Restaurant, loves my plates so much, he requested that could I possible make 200 plates for his corporate dining experience on the First evening of Taste. So why not rise to the challenge. How can I turn down such a huge opportunity!

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Mortar and pestle

The best components for a mortar are: 

1. A good counter weight, you want it to stay in place with minimal effort.

2. A good measure, the depth and diameter of your mortar is very important, so you can grind a good quantity of spice, herb or make an infused oil without the contents spilling over and making an unnecessary mess.

The ideal pestle should:

1. Feel comfy and fill the palm of your hand, with a good weight; not too heavy or large that you cannot hold onto it, not too light or small that you feel you can’t hold onto it properly or can’t grind effectively.

2. Have a nice rounded end for pounding, smashing and grinding you herbs and species.

3. Fill a good quantity of the mortar bowl.


Sandstone plate

A simple and delicious vegetarian dish, enjoyed either hot or cold!  Serves 4.


375 grams eggplant
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
pinch of fenugreek
1 red chilli pepper or 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vinegar


Cut eggplant to bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a fry pan, then add the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and turmeric. Fry 2 minutes on each side or until slightly browned and set aside.

Dry roast all of the spices, except the chilli, until fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop. Grind in your moral and pestle until fine, then add a chilli pepper and grind some more, to a paste. Add a little water if necessary to make stiff paste.

Fry the chopped onion and garlic in the remaining oil until soft. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil on a medium to low heat. Add the eggplant and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes. Lastly, add the vinegar, this balances out the richness of the coconut oil.

Serve on hot on a bed of rice with a side salad.


This recipe is from Asian Flavours by Connie Clarkson.


Mortar and pestle

The Thai way of making a paste is always by mortar and pestle, by tradition. The mortar and pestle is part of the essential Thai kitchen, along with pots and woks, graters and knives.

Each ingredient is added gradually, a bit at a time, in a given order of hardest and driest,   to softest and wettest. Each ingredient should be reduced to pulp before adding the next ingredient. Once each is added and pounded, they release their fragrance. The balance of the paste is judged by this aroma and is adjusted in the making process. As with all Thai cooking, recipes are a guide, and are adjusted at the time of preparation, trying to achieve balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot.

By using a mortar and pestle, you not only can make the paste, but you vary the texture to be coarse or fine, with bits in if you like. Or completely smooth. It is much easier to make exactly the right consistency that you wish, with over doing it, which or course can be easily done in a food processor. Many claim that the taste is superior of a smashed, grounded and pounded paste to that of a sliced and diced machined version.


(This is adapted from, David Thompson’s, Thai Food(2002), which is an amazing collection of Thai cuisine, history, culture and society, regions, pretty much everything you need or could ever want to know about Thai cooking.)