Fresh challenge on Sarah Turpitt’s plate

When Sarah Turpitt returned to the Waikato from England last year it was springtime, and she landed (happily) in the middle of the asparagus season. The growers near her home in Cambridge were going gangbusters with her one of her favourite green vegetables, so she was a regular visitor to Boyd’s Asparagus, on Hautapu Rd, […]

Sugar, spice, and all things nice

Cinnamon buns are on the rise, Denise Irvine samples a few treats In deepest winters of my childhood, my mother warmed us up with her sweet pinwheel scones where the dough was rolled into sheets, filled with a fragrant mix of cinnamon, butter and brown sugar, then cut into rounds and baked till golden. Mum […]

Culinary Cambridge back on the Menu this September

Get salivating food lovers, Culinary Cambridge is back for 2021. In the heart of the Waikato, Cambridge is establishing itself as a hub for fine food. The town of 20,500 is hosting Culinary Cambridge from 15-19 September , highlighting the abundance and variety of local produce, and the talent of local chefs. The inaugural Culinary […]

Culinary stars shine for Matariki

Denise Irvine checks out some competition dishes Kitchen teams in restaurants across the Waikato are currently doing clever things with the likes of mutton-bird, quail, kumara, horopito, bull kelp, bone marrow, kahawai, kawakawa, manuka honey, and more. They’ve created dishes to honour the appearance of the distinctive Matariki cluster of seven stars in the early […]

Toast to the Melt winner

Denise Irvine speaks to WFI’s top toastie maker Chef Sophie Robinson is beaming this morning, and it’s all because of Green Eggs & Ham, her award-winning cheese toastie. It’s been named the overall winner in Waikato Food Inc’s Meyer Melt Challenge, taking the toastie title in a close contest among 19 regional restaurants and cafes. […]

The magic of chocolate-making

Denise Irvine dips into Donovans Chocolates, at Te Rapa There is the sweet smell in the air at Donovans Chocolates factory as fudge is cooked in two vast kettles over gas flames. When it’s ready, a molten caramel-coloured stream is poured into slab trays, spread out and smoothed over. Then set aside to cool, set, […]


If you didn’t already know the Waikato is full of outstanding producers the recent NZ Cheese Awards and Outstanding Producers Awards surely prove it so. NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Category Trophies Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese Award; Meyer Cheese Cumin & Cloves Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavour Added Cheese Award; Meyer Cheese Smoked Gouda IFF […]

I’ve been eating …

Denise Irvine lists some recent local menu highlights Vego Toastie breakfast, at Daydream Espresso, 76 Victoria St, Cambridge. The Vego is a well-crafted combo of Volare bread filled with pickled artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, spinach, and punchy, stretchy Swiss cheese. Toasted to golden and crispy on the outside, melty in the middle, and very good […]

Karli’s Spunky Standout

Karli Maniapoto reinvented the classic banana split for her entry in Waikato Food Inc’s inaugural Donovans Chocolate Challenge. And she came up with a winner. She named her decadent dessert Spunky Monkey, it went onto the menu at Matamata’s Redoubt Bar & Eatery, where she is sous chef. The competition ran March 29-April 11, the […]

Creating new Kiwi classics

Denise Irvine goes back to her culinary roots at Roto-o-rangi. Only this time, it’s top chef Ben Bayly cooking dinner. I grew up on a sheep farm at rural Roto-o-rangi, between Cambridge and Te Awamutu, and the food on my plate was classic New Zealand: tender roast lamb, basted in pan drippings, vegetables fresh from […]