In 2006, chef Bevan Smith and his wife Monique brought their dreams to life by opening Riverstone Kitchen on the outskirts of Oamaru. His experiences in world-renowned restaurants overseas influenced his philosophy for Riverstone. Simplicity is the concept behind his new cookbook, Riverstone Kitchen: Simple. Colleen Thorpe talks to Smith about life in Oamaru, the success of Riverstone and his love of food.
You're living the dream... in Oamaru. Tell us how it came about.
After 10 years of travelling and cooking abroad and meeting and marrying Monique, we decided the time was right to move back to New Zealand to start our own business and a family. Establishing the restaurant on the family farm, just north of Oamaru, was an obvious choice - unlimited space for us to develop our gardens and grow our own produce and the ideal location, in our opinion, to bring up children.
What is the key to Riverstone Kitchen's success?
Staying true to our beliefs, never compromising and being consistent. The rest is just plain hard work.
You source locally grown ingredients for your restaurant. Do you grow some of your own produce?
Yes, we grow most of the produce we use including all leafy greens, herbs and specialty vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, kohlrabi and fennel.
What is the philosophy of Riverstone Kitchen?
To make good food using ethically produced and locally grown ingredients.
What is your first memory of food?
Eating feijoas under the hedge in Northland.
Who is your biggest fan?
My kids - they're too young to know any better.
Who was the major influence in your love of cooking?
Philip Johnson from ecco Bistro in Brisbane. We share very similar philosophies in food and business and my time cooking there was invaluable.
What is your favourite dish?
Pan-fried white fish with wet polenta, chilli, basil and garlic.
What is your secret ingredient?
Generosity in flavour.
Have you a guilty pleasure?
Biscuits and craft beer.
What three New Zealand foods are at the top of your list?
Mt Cook salmon, venison and Nelson scallops.
Riverstone Kitchen Simple
by Bevan Smith