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Fresh columnist Alison Lambert has taken the plunge and opened a business focused on her fresh-is-best philosophy. She talks to Rebecca Fox
Alison Lambert loves fresh locally grown seasonal produce so she has chosen to highlight this in her new cafe, Market Kitchen.
Lambert, who has promoted those loves at Otago Farmers Market and in the Otago Daily Times' Fresh pages for many years, has spent the past few working on her own projects and in other people's kitchens.
"It is time to do it for me.''
After her last venture into running a restaurant did not work out, it was a big decision to dip her toes back in the hospitality sector.
"I had to do it; it's in the blood. You might think I'm crazy, but I love food. What else would I do?''
The decision was made easier when she discovered a "beautiful'' site at Plunket House, in George St, which was a complete clean slate, had an outdoor space and plenty of foot traffic.
With two Auckland business partners with a lot of industry experience behind her, she felt confident taking on a new venture.
"It's been a big learning curve. I've learnt a lot and am older and wiser - this time I'm doing it for me, not to please anyone else.
"I'm more hungry.''
Although fitting out the space took much longer than first expected, she opened last week, with a focus on seasonal plates of food.
"Whatever I can get that day, the menu will evolve.''
She is making a real effort to source food from the Otago area using the contacts established during her years at the farmers market.
"I'm going to keep it as real as I can. I want the product to speak for itself.''
There will be some ingredients, such as avocados and lemons, that she has to source from outside the region but she hopes to keep them to a minimum.
To help with the demands of the kitchen, she has hired like-minded chef Nicola Salter.
"I've learnt my lesson about not doing 100 hours a day.''
There is cabinet food, table service and people are able to see in the kitchen.
"There's no walls, it's all open in the kitchen. There's no hiding.''
She has also hired a French baker to produce the "treats''.
"There will be a lot of cakes. You have to be a little bit naughty.''