People Are Strange, When You’re Stranger…

In the KitchenSo I get to Wellington and decide to shop around a bit in the cool little city. I really like this city - it has a lot of character. I pop into an internet cafe to type up my bio to send out to a winemaker (at this point we are still in search for our next farm/vineyard). Tara and I are talking out loud and a Kiwi starts up a conversation with us because he recognizes our American accents. He happens to live in NYC and is in town visiting. He's a hilarious, warm man (wearing a Big Lebowski Dude t-shirt and he looks just like him too) who has us laughing with his wit and sense of humor; his name is Gavin (Gav). We tell him our stories and that we are chefs from the U.S. and out of nowhere he comes up with a brilliant idea that we should come to his friend Rich’s tonight and cook dinner for 12 people and he will film it. It just so happens that Rich and his roommates take turns each week cooking a dinner for one another and invite friends and tonight was Rich’s night! Gavin decided that Rich was definitely stepping it up a notch by bringing in two American chefs to prepare the dinner for his cooking night. I was so excited for the opportunity to cook in a lovely home by the sea for a group of people from NZ! Its exactly the type of experience I was seeking. Tara and I immediately agree with his offer and just go with it...I knew I was in for an adventure.

CookingDinner 1

We meet at the market about an hour later with somewhat of an idea of what we will make (some sort of fish since we are surrounded by the sea with feijoa - we want to use local NZ products) and we cruise the store with Gavin filming the start of our “reality” cooking/food hit tv show. Immediately we are approached by store staff asking if we have a permit to film and Gav knows exactly how to confidently handle the situation by telling the man that its all been taken care of with “Ed” the manager and that he should go speak with him. Its works! and on we go...feijoas, coriander, lime, ginger, teraki fish, quinoa, coconut milk, pistachios...the list goes on and the menu comes together.

Dinner 2Two Guys

We decide on beautiful rocket, watermelon salad with goat cheese, pistachios and a balsamic reduction followed by the main course of coconut quinoa infused with vanilla bean and roasted teraki fish which will be topped with a feijoa and nectarine salsa with a hint of ginger. We check out of the market and off we go to Rich’s flat. We wind up into the hills of Wellington and park the car high up with an amazing view of the sea. Down about 100 steps (no joke - that part sucked), is Rich’s place (a.k.a. Ricardo or Schnitzal) nested in the hill overlooking the sea. Rich is the owner of a bar in Wellington called “Mighty Mighty" (http://www.myspace.com/mightymightybar) and he lives with about 7 others who are various musicians, artists and travelers. So, here we walk in - these perfect strangers with Gavin filming and we tell the roommates that we are filming a show for the states where we meet random people and take them on a culinary adventure where we take them shopping and cook in their homes and Rich was lucky enough to have us choose him. This is all of course for authenticity of our filming purposes 😉 I was loving this random experience with the locals and how they effortlessly invited and welcomed us into their home without a blink of an eye...oh and even better, they let us pitch our tent in their yard so we found our lodging for the night. Although the wind almost took our tent down (they don't call this place Windy Welly for no reason) This place has Chicago beat - it's the windiest city in the world.

The night was amazing. It was a wonderful evening with A LOT of laughs. These guys were hilarious, we had the best time! I'm looking forward to seeing the final footage from Gavin once he edits it down. I'm sure by the picture you can tell who is who- Gav and the Schniztal. In the end I got to cook, toast to serendipity, eat and drink with the perfect strangers.

Pictures from the night and ferry...enjoy! http://gallery.me.com/monicahutchinson#100117

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