Living heritage through cooking

David and Jacqueline Burt with their children Celeste (10) and Arwen (6)  at Bracken.PHOTOS:...
David and Jacqueline Burt with their children Celeste (10) and Arwen (6) at Bracken.PHOTOS: GERARD O’BRIEN
David Burt, head chef and owner of Dunedin’s Bracken restaurant, shares how he and wife Jacqueline juggle living in and running the restaurant with family life. The couple moved to New Zealand about 11 years ago and moved to Dunedin from Kaikoura in 2019, chasing David’s dream of owning his own restaurant.

Who usually cooks dinner?

David usually cooks dinner for the family. He does this while he is prepping for the restaurant, so it is easier to do this at the same time. David cooks most nights, Jacqueline will cook occasionally, but her cooking skills are basic. On Sundays it is our day off, so we often have a takeaway or go out for dinner as a family.

What is your favourite comfort food?

I love a haggis and square sausage roll (bread bun). They are just delicious, and remind me of Scotland. They can be eaten anywhere and at any time of day!

What do you do that makes it easier to cook for the family?

We have a plan of what we are going to eat each week. As we are busy — David in the restaurant and Jacqueline teaching and sometimes working the restaurant — it is easier to plan, and it is better for the budget, too. The children get input into what they want and what they like.

How do you cater for dietary requirements in the family?

There are no dietary requirements in the house, just general fussiness. We are very much you have to eat what you are given and at least try everything.

What do you cook when friends come over?

It is not often we have friends over, but when we do it is usually a traditional Scottish meal. Pudding will be something from David’s Granny Katie’s recipe book. She was an excellent baker and David spent many hours watching her bake and cook when he was a child.

How does your heritage influence your cooking?

My Scottish heritage is in every aspect of my life, especially in the food I cook and that we eat. I live my heritage daily through the restaurant and the dishes I create weekly. It is important to who I am and how I perceive food, and how we eat as a family. It is an important part of our day to sit and eat together and share parts of our day — no matter how fleeting it might be some days.

What do you always have in your fridge?

We always have the basics: cheese, eggs, milk, cold meats, and fruit and vegetables.

We can whip something together with these things, and have things for the kids to snack on, and for lunchboxes.

What do you never have in your fridge?

We never have tomato sauce or Marmite in our fridge — no-one in this house likes either of these!

Cullen skink

Serves 4

1 leek

1 onion

2 potatoes

1 cup of cream

1 cup blue milk

200-300g smoked fish (warehou or hoki are good. Haddock is traditionally used in the UK)

dry mixed herbs

salt and pepper


Dice the potatoes with the skin on and boil in water until just cooked.

Slice leek and onions finely and while the potatoes are cooking, sweat off the onions, leeks and herbs on a low heat without browning.

When the potatoes are cooked, add them to the onion and leek mix. Mix together.

Add the cream and the milk and cook over a medium heat to reduce.

Break the smoked fish into chunks. When the cream starts to thicken, add the smoked fish.

When the consistency is between a stew and thick soup, it is ready to eat. Season to your taste.

Recommended to serve with oatcakes.

Vegetarian haggis 

Serves 4

selection of root vegetables



1 cup vegetable stock

½ bag Kings vegetable Soup mix

½ litre vegetable stock

1 cup oats

2 tbsp vegetable suet or butter

salt and pepper


Finely dice the vegetables, leek and onion and sweat off over a low heat, don’t brown.

Add the vegetable stock and reduce until the stock is almost gone.

While the vegetables are reducing, cook soup mix in second measure of vegetable stock until the grains and beans are soft, then drain fluid off.

Mix together the vegetables and soup mix. Make sure they are mixed well.

Put over a low heat, and add in the suet or butter (about 2 tablespoons). Once the butter has melted down, add small amounts of oats until it comes together gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with vegetables, as a side dish or accompaniment to a main meal.

Note: This is very good for hiding vegetables when feeding children.

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