It’s no small feat that each and every day the kitchen at Raeward Fresh (formerly the Mediterranean Market) produces a brand new range of salads, savouries, sandwiches, meats and catering orders. The food is always fresh and flows with the seasons. When the figs are ripe, the kitchen is inspired to create a Roasted Kumara and Fig Salad with Blue Cheese. Or, when the beets are plentiful, it’ll be Baked Quinoa and Brown Sugar Beet Slices with Danish Feta in the cabinet ready for lunch or taken away for an outdoor adventure. Customers at the store’s deli and cafe, or who place catering orders, have the opportunity to eat this top notch local fare any day of the week.
Of course, there are personalities behind the daily innovation and culinary ingenuity that come out of our kitchen. Chef’s Anne Halson and (formerly) Lewis McIntosh bring a diverse range of experiences, cooking styles and their own charm to the party as they roam the isles of the store gathering vine ripened tomatoes or greengage plums for a new salad idea. Anne ran her own restaurant for years, gathering up books full of personal recipes and ideas along the way, and brings a whimsical imagination and a chefs depth to her creations. Lewis has cooked around the world gleaning concepts and styles which add a hearty international flare to his fare.
Most chefs plan their set menus and then have to order supplies from food vendors or, if they’re lucky (like at Matakauri Lodge or Fishbone), they can grab a few ingredients from their restaurant’s garden. Anne and Lewis however, get to raid the foodies treasure trove – the store’s isles, butchery and fresh produce sections – every day. Sometimes, the cabinet and catering offering will begin with a recipe that Anne or Lewis want to modify because there are crates of ripe peaches to hand or a new range of cheeses just in. Other days may be inspired as the chefs ponder over the fresh watercress or an Angus ribeye roast until “eureka!” – a new savoury idea emerges.
Angela and Nathan encourage their chefs to use whatever they need from the store to create the kind of dishes and platters Raeward Fresh has become known for. This kind of generosity, a spirit of hospitality, shows up in the abundance of offerings and recipes available to locals and visitors alike. Alongside all this is a really cool cross pollination of ideas and sampling that goes on within the Raeward Fresh as, for instance, our (former) nutritionist Kim Malcolm shares samples of new products with the staff. Having access to freshly pressed olive oils from down the road in Cromwell, or up-to-the-day seasonal produce gives the entire staff a rich experience to share with our increasingly epicurean/foodie customers.
Raeward Fresh’s kitchen puts all this knowledge and style together for what may be a quick business lunch for the locals (who love coming in each day to see what Anne or Lewis have cooked up), a taste of the region for visiting tourists who stop by the shop, or a catered meal for travelers taking a helicopter into the mountains for a little scenery with their canapes.
Next week, we’ll share more about the catering side of Raeward Fresh and perhaps a recipe or two from our selection of recent dishes.