Dedication to seasonality, consistency rewarded

No 7 Balmac head chef Logan Wilson plates up. Photo: Gregor Richardson
No 7 Balmac head chef Logan Wilson plates up. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Dunedin chef Logan Wilson is showing hard work and dedication combine to bring rewards. Rebecca Fox talks to him about getting an elusive chef’s "hat" and making the finals list to be an ambassador chef for Beef + Lamb.

Logan Wilson ended up in Dunedin by accident.

The Timaru born, raised and trained chef was looking for a house with his partner when they found one they liked — not realising it was in Dunedin.

"We wanted a change."

When they found out the house’s location they began searching for jobs in the city and moved south.

The couple, now married with two daughters, have never looked back.

For the past six years, Wilson has been working in the kitchen at popular Maori Hill eatery No7 Balmac, under chefs such as Billy and Penny Allen and Greg Piner.

"There’s been some pretty amazing chefs go through there — it’s pretty cool."

He was working at the restaurant when a fire nearly destroyed it, through its move to the Octagon and its rebuild.

Working there through the Covid pandemic provided him with his first real break in his working life.

"There’s been plenty of ups and downs, that’s for sure."

Prior to that he worked in a variety of kitchens following his chef polytechnic training in Timaru.

"I started straight out of school and fell in love with it.

"Over 20 years now — it’s flown by.

"I worked with some great chefs when I was young and they provided a lot of inspiration."

It was his job at Balmac where he got to cook over a wood fire that really appealed.

"There are not many places where you get to do that.

"It’s not a common toy in a kitchen and having a kitchen garden out back — you can’t buy that freshness."

The wood fire required a little more work to ensure its temperature was where they needed it for what they were cooking, but he enjoyed the challenge.

"Put anything on there and it tastes good."

Seasonality was key to his menus and Otago provided the best produce to showcase.

He used Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours to emphasis their flavours.

"It’s kind of silly to use tomatoes in winter.

"We also try to use local when we can ... [and] buy fruit direct from the orchards.

"The seasonal fruit you get from Central is just crazy good — there is always something."

He was always keen to try to change people’s perceptions of ingredients, such as the polarising Brussels sprout.

"I got people liking Brussels sprouts last year."

Last year his dedication to seasonality was recognised in the Cuisine Good Food Awards, which awarded the restaurant a "hat" when judges scored it 17 out of 20.

"It’s not just diners who get treated with respect, it’s the ingredients."

The judges also recognised the restaurant’s consistency, and said it was difficult to "constantly hit the mark when you do breakfast, lunch and dinner too".

"But here they get it just right. So right in fact, that you go for brunch and want to stay for dinner".

For Wilson the accolade meant a lot.

"It’s a career highlight definitely. It’s every chef’s dream to get that. I didn’t think I’d have a shot."

He believed his kitchen’s ability to do the basics well and as the judges commented, consistently, was the key to the award.

He has not been resting on his laurels since then either.

He was recently named a finalist for Beef + Lamb’s ambassador chef programme alongside fellow southern chef Cameron Davies, from the Fat Duck in Te Anau.

"It’s pretty special to even be shortlisted. There’s some great chefs on the list and I know some great chefs who missed out."

He submitted two dishes — one beef and one lamb — showcasing his latest ideas.

"Really simple and seasonal. I did a lamb rump with sweetbreads, asparagus and a scotch fillet with a silverside jerky and oyster mushrooms."

At home with a 2-year-old and a new baby, quick and easy was the go-to for food so he usually reached for seasonal vegetables and pasta.

One of the great things about being a chef was food was always changing, and there was always plenty to be inspired by to "get the brain ticking".

"No two days are the same.

"There is always a challenge and we have a bloody good team.

"It’s always easier when you are surrounded by people who have the same end goal as you."

He was also happy to learn from anyone.

"I’ve learnt from kitchen hands before."

The new Beef + Lamb ambassador chefs will be announced early next month.

Photo: Gregor Richardson
Photo: Gregor Richardson

Spice roasted kūmara, broad bean hummus, sumac onions, zhoug


Makes 2 cups and will keep in the fridge for weeks

This paste is also great for grilled chicken.

1 Tbsp coriander seeds

1 Tbsp black pepper

2 Tbsp cumin seeds

6 cardamom pods

10 cloves

1 Tbsp Aleppo chilli powder

1 Tbsp turmeric

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp salt

80g brown sugar

120g tomato paste

120g garlic

80g ginger

200ml vegetable oil


Toast the whole spices in a dry frypan and then grind in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

Peel ginger and garlic, crush or grate and blend to a smooth paste.

Combine all ingredients together well.

*If you don’t have Aleppo chilli, use normal chilli powder, but maybe just 1tsp.


500g broad beans shelled

1 cup mint

2 cloves garlic

juice of 2 lemons

1 tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp tahini

½ cup olive oil

good pinch of salt and pepper


Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.


Sumac pairs very well with red onion. The combination of the two creates an amazing tangy condiment that can be used as a coolant in place of dairy.

1 red onion

juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp sumac

parsley, finely chopped


Slice onions thinly. Squeeze over lemon juice and add sumac and finely chopped parsley. Mix well and let sit for at least an hour.


2 cloves of garlic

2 green chilli, seeds removed

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 ½ cup coriander, chopped

2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

100ml olive oil

½ tsp turmeric

1 ½ tsp cumin

1 ½ tsp ground coriander

1 ½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp cardamom

a good pinch of salt


Smash all ingredients together in pestle and mortar, then stir in the olive oil.


Two average-sized red kūmara


Peel the kūmara, cut them into chunks, coat in the spice paste, before vacuum sealing and sous vide at 85°C for 2 hours, giving them a good roast in the oven at 200°C before serving. If you do not have a sous vide option, you can steam the kūmara until soft but still holding its shape, before roasting, or simply roast at a lower temperature (about 170°C) for longer to avoid the paste burning.

To put the dish together, smear a generous amount of the broad bean hummus on the plate, top with the roasted kūmara and dress with the zhoug and onions. I garnished this dish with broad bean shoots from the garden and fried curry leaves.