Helen Mason. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Two Chefs Bistro
Why and how did you become a chef?
I enjoyed cooking as a child, baking seven things on a
Saturday morning, cooking at holiday camps and entering
cooking competitions. I was accepted for a Lion Breweries
apprenticeship straight from school, and went to Otago
Polytech for a diploma in cookery.
Biggest professional challenge?
The biggest challenge is the day-to-day running of our
restaurant amd trying to maintain standards we have set.
At the moment, fresh pomegranate is my favourite ingredient -
so delish in a Moroccan warm salad of roasted eggplant and
Best cooking tip?
Taste, taste, taste.
What type of food do you like to eat?
What a question. I love all food, otherwise I wouldn't be a
very good chef (take note all student chefs). Food fresh from
my garden or the Dunedin farmers' market, food cooked by
someone else, especially my sisters, or food in Paris, Rome
or Melbourne restaurants.
Who cooks at home?
Because we are both chefs, we usually fight over who is going
to make even cheese on toast.
Crayfish and Champagne (happens very rarely).
Favourite kitchen gadget?
I have two favourite gadgets at present - our Robot Coupe
ice-cream machine and our new digitally controlled smoker,
which we use for our own smoked salmon and bacon.
How have people's tastes changed?
People are definitely more educated with their palates from
travelling and the prolific number of annoying cooking shows
on telly. Of course, everyone is a restaurant critic, no
matter what their knowledge. Trends are hopefully turning
back from molecular foams and spheres that look and taste
like a pea (why didn't they just use a pea?) to simple,
seasonal, fresh and tasty food.
Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver?
Probably more of a Rick Stein girl myself but, if I have to
choose, it would be Gordon, purely because of his pedigree
(Marco Pierre White yelled at him all day when he was a young
chef), drive for perfection and stamina for working the
amazing long hours to achieve what he did.
Lime and Honey Cream
This is a handy recipe for summer. Just set in individual
glasses and top with whatever chopped fresh fruit you like and
a wafer or shortbread.
750 ml cream
zest and juice of 3 limes
zest and juice of 1 lemon
fruit of your choice to put on top: chopped mango,
strawberries, stonefruit or melon
Heat cream over medium heat in a saucepan for about eight
minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add juice, honey
and zest to cream and mix well. Strain all into a jug but add
back 1 teaspoon of zest. Cool and pour into six glasses. Set
in fridge overnight. To serve, top with fruit, maybe drizzled
with limoncello, whipped cream and a wafer.