Bay chef is back!

Culinary Conversations
with Peter Blakeway
Food writer, caterer and private chef

As some of you know by now I've started as a tutor of culinary arts at Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology – yes I know, it's still the Bay of Plenty Poly to most of you – which in some way explains why I‘ve been a bit remiss in my writing recently.

The reality is I had no idea just how challenging it would be to teach the next generation of chefs. After 25 years in the industry I should be pretty comfortable with most things in the culinary world, but facing a group of young chefs at the start of their careers certainly challenges that comfort. These young chefs are so much better informed than I ever was at the start of my cooking career. In those days it was the head chefs that ruled and we had limited access to information with which to challenge them, even if we had the courage to do so! Not so today, the thirst for knowledge is incredible.

I have to admit at first it was a bit daunting, then I realised out here on the Windermere campus we have the most astonishing team of industry professionals and head chefs to call on. We even have our own Belgium baker.

When you think I'm teaching in the next door kitchen belonging to the ex-head chef of fish and Simon Gault's right-hand-man for many years, you can see this is an exceptional team. I started to try to total up the years of experience accumulated by the eight tutors of culinary arts but stopped when I realised the number was huge and it might make us feel old. Perhaps I should list accolades and awards?

As for the new name, Toi-Ohomai, it couldn't be more appropriate for this new tutor. It means to be awakened by learning or to aim high and achieve great heights. What a great sentiment, and not just for our students, but for the whole Bay of Plenty. To be awakened by learning should be the mantra that supports innovation, connectedness and motivates and inspires not just this institution but also the people of our slice of paradise.

Pannacotta with berry coulis

Serves 2

Ingredients

200ml cream

½ vanilla pod

¼ lemon rind thinly pared

1 leaf gelatine

½ Tbsp cold milk

25g icing sugar

20ml grappa or other clear spirit (optional)

Berry coulis:

75g fruit – for example, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, blueberries

25g caster sugar

Method

Pour 450ml cream into a pan, add vanilla pod and lemon zest and reduce by one-third. Meanwhile, soak gelatine in milk for 15 minutes until soft. Remove zest from reduced cream and set aside. Remove vanilla pod and scrape the insides back into the cream. Remove gelatine, squeezing out excess milk and heat milk until boiling, then return the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Add to the hot cream and leave to cool.

Whip remaining cream with icing sugar and fold into cooled cooked cream, then add grappa. Place a piece of cooked lemon rind in each of 6 dariole moulds, pour in cream mixture and allow to set for two hours.

Clean and destalk fruit. Heat in a pan with the sugar and a splash of alcohol – for example, fruit liqueur. But remember this is optional – over a low heat for 30 minutes. Blitz in a food processor or blender and sieve. Chill until ready to serve.

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Beauty after the storm. Photo: Tracy Hardy. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. photos@thesun.co.nz