Chefs 'think outside square' as Kai in the Bay returns

By Amy Shanks

Kai in the Bay may have expanded significantly since the first event three years ago, but its core values remain.

The Maori and Wild Food Festival began as a way to bring people together to talk about health problems such as diabetes, something co-founder Robert Whaitiri admits is, "a bit ironic".

"In the first year we had two community health programmes come out and test people for diabetes.

"We had about 1000 people through and the nurses were on hand to give people advice and tell them if they needed to visit their doctor.

"So each year Henry [Heke] and I make sure that health aspect comes into it," he said.

Just one day out, preparations for the event were in full swing with 30 food vendors doing last-minute jobs and 50 educational and interactive stalls gearing up for an onslaught of visitors.

About 1500 tickets had been sold so far and Mr Whaitiri hoped more people would take the opportunity to enjoy an affordable day out.

"It's very family-oriented, we have tried to keep the cost down so ordinary parents can bring their kids along. We encourage people to pack a picnic and come along to take part in the events."

As part of the festivities there will be a cook-off between six marae, which aims to encourage people to "think outside the square" and prepare traditional Maori food in an inventive way.

"Last year what I added was a marae cook-off calling people from Wairoa to Masterton. They have to make an entree, main and a steam pudding - Hawke's Bay Seafoods has sponsored all the seafood for the entree and the main meal is a boil up, but not just any boil up.

"It's taking something normal and thinking outside the square, Usually we would take the meat and boil it to death, then add the watercress and veges but we want to see something different."

Former All Blacks Taine Randell and Norm Hewitt, and acclaimed chefs Rex Morgan, Nick Green, Pete Peeti and David Griffiths would be involved with various cook-offs and demonstrations.

Students from local intermediate and high schools were challenged to cook a $20 meal to feed a family of four and planning for the much anticipated Pie in the Bay competition was also under way.

Categories included classic meat, Maori, wild, seafood and specialist.

"Competitors will be dropping their entries off at any of the four BJs Bakery's in Hawke's Bay to be prepared for the judging panel," Mr Heke said. "All people need to do is fill out an entry form and drop off their pie, which has to have a pastry bottom and disposable container."

Children under 12 attend Kai in the Bay for free if accompanied by parents, and activities such as hotrod rides and a zorb ball will be on offer.

Saturday's event starts from 9am and is alcohol- and tobacco-free. Tickets are $5 available from BNZ bank prior to the event, or for $10 on the gate.

This year the event has joined forces with the inaugural Food and Wine Classic which finishes on Sunday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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