Not content to simply use the freshest produce Hawke’s Bay has to offer, many of the region’s finest chefs and creators passionately grow their own produce ensuring garden-to-plate cuisine that is among the finest in the country.
For Casey McDonald, Head Chef at Craggy Range, his move to Hawke’s Bay was always going to be about the produce. “The great thing about working in Hawke’s Bay and at Craggy Range is that Hawke’s Bay has the best produce, almost anywhere in the world sometimes. You have to go out and get it, but that part of the job is really enjoyable. Our suppliers decide the menu.”
And for a menu that is full of big bold flavours, delivered with subtlety and a lot of finesse, that’s a lot of pressure to put on the ingredients. Perhaps this is why Casey McDonald tends so carefully to the gardens at Craggy Range.
With an ever-changing menu, many of the herbs, fruits and vegetables are grown in the extensive kitchen garden. This produce is highlighted on the menu and serves as an acute reminder to guests of the very low food miles that have contributed.
Francky Godinho’s St George’s Restaurant in Havelock North has made its name off its sustainable approach and abundance of home-grown ingredients.
St Georges’ menu is always designed around its seasonal produce with Head Chef Francky growing and nurturing more than 90% of the produce in his own on-site organic garden. In fact, his gardens have become so vast that he on sells some of his produce to other restaurants and chefs in the region.
With considerable planting taking place in the lead-up to the busiest months of the year, the team looks forward to once again bringing its customers an abundance of colourful food.
“What we do at St George’s is totally organic. We grow our own produce, we change our menu every four weeks, we are sustainable and natural. We work to keep in line with the environment,” says Francky.
It’s not just the chefs of Hawke’s Bay who are passionate about the origin of their ingredients; award-winning gin makers Hastings Distillers are passionate about growing their own organic ingredients too.
Kate Galloway and David Ramonteu, Hastings Distillers’ founders, source many of the botanicals for their multi award winning range of gins from “gin gardens” dotted across Hawke’s Bay. While local organic citrus growers provide the fruit, the many herbs and aromatics – including angelica, coriander seeds and bay leaves - are lovingly tended by a number of small biodynamic suppliers (including friends and family) around the region.
Kate and David grow a few themselves too, which they then add to their ever-expanding ‘olfactory library.’ What began as the starting point for their much-lauded Albertine gin currently houses over 300 beautiful New Zealand botanicals, many of which end up in their delicious, carefully crafted gins and liqueurs.
Other restaurants with a kitchen garden include:
Farm by name and nature, Cape Kidnappers harvests much of its own produce from its onsite vegetable garden. Planted and harvested by the moon, this extensive kitchen garden is close to the lodge and abundant in every season.
The Mangapapa Kitchen is a place of creativity using fresh produce grown in their kitchen garden and acres of orchards. Mangapapa Kitchen maintains a ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy in all their cuisine, straight from the great outdoors to the kitchen preparation hub.
At Wallingford, chef Chris Stockdale’s menu has an emphasis on seasonal produce & foraging. Here you can taste truffles, herbs, fruit, vegetables & delicious angus beef from their garden and farm.
The Manse offers a true paddock to plate experience with most of the fresh produce and ingredients coming straight from the lodge’s small farm and orchard. Chef Gary creates personalised menus for his guested based around the fresh seasonal produce from his garden.
This urban café in the middle of Ahuriri has a fantastic garden that provides the freshest seasonal salad greens and herbs for their kitchen.