'Proud' of fellowship

Visiting Indian chef and Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship recipient Kunal Kapoor and host Minister for Primary Industries David Carter board TSS Earnslaw on Saturday as part of the Mr Kapoor's whirlwind weekend tour of Queenstown and Cromwell. Photo by James Beech.
Visiting Indian chef and Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship recipient Kunal Kapoor and host Minister for Primary Industries David Carter board TSS Earnslaw on Saturday as part of the Mr Kapoor's whirlwind weekend tour of Queenstown and Cromwell. Photo by James Beech.
The ''gourmet guru'' of India has praised New Zealanders for their hospitality during his whistle-stop fact-finding tour of New Zealand, which took in Queenstown and Cromwell at the weekend.

Culinary maestro Kunal Kapoor, executive sous chef at the luxury hotel Leela Kempinski Gurgaon and judge on Masterchef India, was presented with the Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship by Minister for Primary Industries David Carter, on behalf of the New Zealand Government, in Delhi in late November.

Mr Carter hosted Mr Kapoor in Queenstown.

Mr Kapoor said he helped ''let go of my fear of heights'' during visits to the Skyline Gondola and luge and the Shotover Jet.

The visiting gourmand sampled the ''amazing'' cuisine in Michelin-starred chef Josh Emmet's restaurant, Rata. He was scheduled to give a cooking demonstration in Queenstown Resort College and explore New Zealand produce at the Cromwell farmers' market.

On the Steamer Wharf on Saturday, before the party boarded a TSS Earnslaw cruise, Mr Kapoor said Sir Edmund was renowned in India as the man who first climbed Mt Everest. He said his mother, who knew little of the world outside India, was especially proud her son was awarded the fellowship in his name.

''For me, he signifies inner strength and courage to do what you want to do in life.

''I'm happy and honoured to be part of this exclusive club.''

The fellowship commemorated the legacy of Sir Edmund's work to build ties between New Zealand, India and Nepal and was launched by then prime minister Helen Clark in 2008, the year the explorer and former New Zealand High Commissioner to India died.

Miss Clark said at the time the fellowship would enable people from India or Nepal, who had the potential to become leaders or have influence in parliamentary, academic, business, cultural or other fields, to visit New Zealand.