TVNZ programmers have the show for the times with Eat Well for Less starting next Tuesday evening. Viewers are in for some jaw dropping reality when household shopping goes under the microscope.
The show, based on a UK series, is hosted by chefs Mike van de Elzen (TVNZ's The Food Truck, and Kiwi Living) and restaurateur Ganesh Raj (owner of The Tasting Shed, co-owner of The Māori Kitchen.) Viewers will be happy to meet Raj and his infectious sense of humour, with van de Elzen already a favourite of TV audiences.
In each episode, the pair will meet a Kiwi family, and share their knowledge on how to save money, sort food facts from food fiction and eat well for less. By the end of each episode, the team hopes to have changed a family's life, as well as the size of their shopping bill.
Raj has been behind the camera as a marketing creative and a director since he and his producer wife, Jo, moved from Singapore to Auckland in 2002.
"It's been almost 20 years since I was a presenter on ESPN Asia and MTV Asia, and it was great to be back in front of the camera again and not have to think about camera angles and how segments will edit together," Raj tells Spy.
In 2011 the pair opened The Tasting Shed, in Kumeu. The restaurant has consistently been in the Top 50 Auckland Restaurants' list and he has twice been named Restaurant Personality of the Year.
The pair were amped to do the show as a useful aid to families, with neither realising how important their show would be in these times.
"My passion has always been to encourage Kiwis to eat healthier and share recipes and tips that are good for you, but don't compromise on taste," says van de Elzen. "It was an absolute honour to be invited into people's homes during Eat Well For Less, and if we can help just one Kiwi family watching the show, it will be a success in my eyes." he says.
"Right now we all need to shop within our means and serve what keeps the family happy. Comfort food is key during these stressful times but that doesn't mean you can't make a few tweaks to have some variety," says Raj, who is soon to start a YouTube channel about global food that doesn't cost the world.
"Make sure each meal has leftovers so you can repurpose it the next day. Budgets are going to get tight over the next six-18 months. Save money by learning how to cook some simple, delicious meals," he says.
Van de Elzen says Uber Eats was just too easy and expensive for families and the show will more than demonstrate wasted spending. "Takeaways can still be a treat for families, just not an everyday thing. This lockdown has made us put back on our pinnies and cook for ourselves. Yes, it doesn't always work out and taste as good as your favourite Thai delivery but you are cooking from scratch and best of all your kids are learning the very valuable lessons of food," he says.
Both hospo pros know Level 3 will be tough on their own restaurants.
"I am trying to approach the next wee while with two values in mind. Compassion and courage. Every day I tell myself that I have to have the compassion to look after my family and staff," says Raj.
For van de Elzen, he says its back to basics.
"Each chef and business will have dishes or cuisines that they're loved for, and people will have been craving during the Lockdown. Focusing on good food, good customer service and a good atmosphere will get us through," he says.