Dame Jools Topp reckons New Zealand is full of amazing people and recipes.

And she should know after she and her twin sister Dame Lynda toured the country on a culinary tour which included five stops in Hawke's Bay.

The twins have just released a book titled Topp Country - A Culinary Journey which is based on their television show.

It is stunning - the twins' personality shines through in the photographs, the poems, the recipes, all of it. I found myself grinning as I thumbed through the pages.


Speaking from her home "in the wild on a stormy day", Jools said their book was not about any one particular style of cooking "but it sure isn't anything like flashy MasterChef".

"We are really excited about our book. When we were first asked about doing a food show we said 'do I look like a chef'? But the show and this book is about home cooks not chefs," Jools said.

"Before we started we asked our mum what she thought we should do on the programme. She said it should be fun, at the end of the show we should be able to cook the dish and that no one should be voted off.

"She said she wanted to watch a fun and happy show, not a stressful and sweaty one where people where worried the entire time they were cooking that it would be the last time they did it.

"For my mother cooking food was all about taking your time and sharing. No rushing involved. Kiwis are good at doing that - just look at the way food is served on a marae. First you are welcomed on to the marae and then you get an amazing feed.

"And these days we want to know where our food comes from. We grew up on a farm so we knew how food happens from an early age. We also knew that our animals were cared for and respected. That's a big thing these days and it's an important thing."

Both women are animal lovers and love to ride.

"I spent every spare minute on my horse but it's a privilege and he has to say 'yes I'm feeling groovy, let's ride'."

Jools uses the vaquero style of riding which is a "classical style of riding and working the horse where the horse is big part of the deal".

The Topp Twins burst on to out scenes more than 30 years ago with their country music and singing comedy. They had their own television series in the late 1990 introducing classic characters such as Camp Mother, Camp Leader and Ken.

In this year's Queen's Birthday honours, Lynda and Jools were appointed Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to entertainment.

This is their first book and like them it's bright and full of fun. It features local Te Mata Figs, Terraza Saffron, New Zealand Game Birds, Makapua Station and dear farmers Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe among others.