A chef taught at Wanganui Polytechnic by Joe Power returned to the River City yesterday to cook for rural women.
Shaun Clouston, a partner in Wellington's Logan Brown restaurant, is one of several Beef + Lamb Ambassadors touring the country to cook at demonstration evenings held by Rural Women New Zealand.
Last night, he prepared three dishes in Claire Brown's Landguard Bluff kitchen, with 30 to 40 people watching and, later, sampling.
He made lamb and grilled vegetable quesadilla, porcini braised Wagyu cheek with pinot noir risotto and spice crusted lamb shoulder with couscous, pearl barley, asparagus and heirloom tomatoes.
The idea was to teach new skills, especially to people giving hospitality at farmstay or bed and breakfast businesses.
He said he wasn't planning to make any desserts. "Most ladies are good at desserts."
And the job hasn't been as easy as he anticipated.
"I think there's a lot of rural women who know how to cook really well, especially in these parts."
He should know, because he still sometimes uses relish and slice recipes from the cookbooks of his Wanganui grandmothers.
He did some molecular cooking in Australia, but has returned to more traditional methods to respect the top quality ingredients used at Logan Brown. Some of the meat comes from Wanganui business Chef's Choice.
"I still want it to be the hero. I can't understand why people want to turn it into some crazy kind of fluff."
Logan Brown does have some unusual dishes, though. One of the most popular is paua ravioli, served with a butter sauce. Then there is salmon smoked on the premises with sauvignon blanc grape prunings and served with horseradish pannacotta and crayfish mayonnaise. A popular dessert is a round doughnut filled with feijoa or berry puree, served with an apple brulee.
The restaurant also has game on the menu - hare, thar and wild rabbit, and whitebait, smoked eel and scallops.
Clouston started at Logan Brown when it opened in 1996, as a sous chef. He's now one of four partners in the business.
Although he's an ambassador for beef and lamb, his family eats red meat only once or twice a week. He said it was good for dietary iron, but vegetables were needed to help the body absorb it.
His family always sets the table, turns the television off and sits down together for dinner. And he likes what's happening with New Zealand's food culture.
"There's a lot more very, very good restaurants."