Some of our top chefs and food writers - Al Brown, Graham Brown, Peter Gordon, Annabel Langbein, Robert Oliver and Charles Royal - will appear at the Frankfurt Book Fair as part of its associated Culinary Festival. Under the banner New Zealand Is Cooking, they will deliver showcases and demonstrations in the NZ Pavilion.

Peter Gordon, Al Brown, Graham Brown and Charles Royal are also each taking over a Frankfurt restaurant for a night to cook a menu made with fresh New Zealand produce, while wine writer Michael Cooper will host a three-course menu of Frankfurt cuisine matched by New Zealand wines.

While there has been some criticism that New Zealand is incorporating food events in its FBF programme, Ministry of Heritage and Culture chief Lewis Holden is unapologetic.

"Some have sniffily said it's all a bit low-rent at a high-end book fair but we have approached this very much as NZ Inc," he says.


"We are there to fuel that hunger Germans have for New Zealand ... it's an investment in the future relationship as well so we make no apologies for showcasing all aspects of New Zealand."

Friday's Al's Big Night with Al Brown at Margarete restaurant has already sold out. "I am taking myself, my aprons and my knives up there," says Brown, who runs Depot in Auckland and Logan Brown Restaurant in Wellington.

"I take a lot of preps with me, organise things like fresh Cloudy Bay clams coming up there, fresh New Zealand grouper, venison, relishes and bits and pieces, and then I will prep and cook most of it. But," he laughs, "I am as nervous as hell."

Brown's menu will start with a "koha" - a large clam shell filled with five fresh Cloudy Bay clams with a lime and ginger syrup; followed by roasted grouper with kale, a tomato and clam sauce, and basil mayonnaise; venison two ways, with cherry relish; and a dessert Brown describes as "setting myself up for a fall, a nod to where I am": a tamarillo and apple strudel.

His menu will be complemented by Quartz Reef wines from central Otago, presented by winemaker Rudi Bauer.

Peter Gordon and Graham Brown are also taking over Margarete's kitchens for a night, while Charles Royal, who specialises in cooking Maori wild foods, will create a three-course menu "Maori-style" at Freitagskuche restaurant.