True calling creating beautiful food

Philippa Pope
The Ida Valley Kitchen
Oturehua

Why and how did you become a chef? I'm not formally trained, I just love to cook. I'd discovered how enjoyable it could be as a teenager going flatting. I had taught kindergarten for 20 years before opening The Ida Valley Kitchen because I just love cooking and presenting beautiful food.

Biggest professional challenge? Juggling all the balls. Cafe life can be unpredictable.

Favourite ingredient? Lemons - in dressings, pasta, cakes and desserts, they lift the flavour.

Best cooking tip? Don't settle for bland flavour, go for depth.

What type of food do you like to eat? I love to eat tasty ethnic food with spices, coriander and great holiday memories.

Who cooks at home? Whoever is the least tired cooks at home. We usually eat leftovers.

Favourite meal? Anything someone else cooks for me. I just love that someone else takes time and effort to do it. Cooking for someone, I think, shows that you care about them.

Favourite kitchen gadget? My Microplane lemon zester ... worth every cent.

How have people's tastes changed/latest food trends? Travel broadens the tastebuds as well as the mind (and the waistband) and our palates evolve accordingly.

Battle of TV cooks Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver? Jamie Oliver all the way. The other is just an angry, angry man.


Date and Lemon salad dressing

RECIPE
6 Tbsp chopped dates
Zest and juice of two lemons
2 Tbsp lightly toasted cumin seeds
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup olive oil

Combine and leave to infuse overnight.