Artisans: Waiheke octogenarians with the spice of life

By Alexia Santamaria

Jenny's Kitchen Tamarind Chutney. Photo / Supplied
Jenny's Kitchen Tamarind Chutney. Photo / Supplied

It's hard to know what's more delightful, Jenny's Kitchen Tamarind Chutney or the charming octogenarian couple who produce it all - by hand. Jenny (80) and Hilton (81) Stewart started making their chutney 15 years ago after a trip to Fiji. "It was the first time I had tasted tamarind so I brought a block back with me and started experimenting." says Jenny. She threw in a bit of everything she thought would taste good with her new discovery and the result was a delicious chutney.

Friends and family couldn't get enough and suggested the couple sell it at the markets. "I was terrified" admits Jenny. "I'd never even been to a market before!" She needn't have worried though, as she sold all 40 of her jars that day.

And so it continued, every week at Waiheke Markets. Then the local community started stocking it in their shops and it even spread to the "mainland". The couple seem quite surprised by the success of the whole thing and were even more surprised when someone suggested they enter the Cuisine Artisan Awards this year.

"Someone told me we should enter, about two hours before it closed, so I threw something together and we won an award! That was nice, wasn't it?" laughs Jenny.

The chutney is excellent. At first taste you may think "bit sweet", but then the spice kicks in and rounds it off perfectly leaving you with a wonderful lingering tangy, sweet and spicy flavour. The balance is immaculate.

My preference is the medium but there is mild, hot and extra hot. The couple joke about making the extra hot for their own personal spectator enjoyment. It's not a searing heat, though, and won't blow your head off. My advice would be to start with medium (the award winner), then work out how far up or down the spice scale you want to go.

Stockists:

Ashore Fine Foods, Birkenhead; Bhana Bros, Ponsonby; Boric Food Market, Kumeu; Boxit, Auckland; Essential Deli, Mt Eden; Farro Fresh Foods; Madam Jo Jo's, Remuera; Pasta Italia, Parnell; Pukeko Bakery, Mairangi Bay; Seafood & Moore, Auckland; The Butlers Banquet, Kohimarama. On Waiheke Island: Thyme, Palm Beach Store, Te Matuku Oysters, The Goldie Room, True Blue, Waiheke Fruit & Veg, Waiheke Wine Centre, Wild on Waiheke.

- NZ Herald

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