FACES of FEAST Karl Martin-Boulton

Denise Irvine chats to some of the faces of Feast, this time one to watch, Karl Martin-Boulton

About: Karl Martin-Boulton was born in Coventry, in the UK, and moved to New Zealand with his family in his late teens. He went back to England a few years later and made his mark as Chef/Patron of the 4 AA Rosette ‘Old Downton Lodge’ Restaurant with Rooms, in the hills outside Ludlow. Old Downton earned many accolades on Karl’s watch, including a place in the Michelin Guide, and the 4 AA rosettes put it in the top three per cent of restaurants in the UK.  Karl’s now living in the Waikato and about to realise his dream of opening a restaurant in Hamilton. It’s a tad too soon for the big reveal but it will be named The Green. Says Karl: “And if anyone steals the name I’ll hunt them down!”

Event: Eating Waikato at “The Green”, Sky City Hamilton, Saturday, April 3.

First kitchen job?

It was with my dad, Andy Boulton, who was head chef at a golf club at Wolverhampton, outside Coventry. I was 13 years old, and I washed the dishes. My dad is the best and toughest person I’ve ever worked for. There were no concessions because I was his son. He is my inspiration. [Andy Boulton is nowadays the venue manager at Claudelands Events Centre].

Your cooking style?

I used to say modern British but I can’t really do that now. I cook with the seasons, I roll with them, I’m inspired by local producers, and I champion independent growers. I’m also a huge supporter of the Slow Food Movement. I take raw ingredients and turn them into something modern and exciting. I love vegetables, and I was known as the Beetroot Ambassador in the UK.  I love them. I’ve used beetroot in a dessert of whipped frozen beetroot with marshmallows.  That’s challenged a few people but it works; beetroot has a beautiful earthy-sweet flavour.

What brought you to New Zealand?

Family. My mother’s sister married a Kiwi from Te Aroha and we all kind of clung on and came to New Zealand too. We’re a close family. We fell in love with the country. It’s incredible.

Why Feast?

Waikato Food Inc is like the Slow Food Movement; their passion for the produce in their region is infectious. And I’m sick of everyone from Auckland bagging the Waikato. There are great suppliers and growers here. I’m finding new ones every day.

Give us a hint about what you’ll be cooking for Feast?

We’ll be eating the Waikato, the best of local produce. The first snack will be tempura enoki mushrooms with mushroom ketchup and crispy chicken skin. The mushrooms are from a mushroom farm near me. There will be an autumn salad with lots of different leaves and textures; Cambridge duck for the main, and dessert using local milk and honey.

Best food find in Aotearoa this summer?

So many of them. But locally, I’m loving coffee from Rocket and Raglan Roast, and yoghrut from Raglan Food Co. And fresh watermelon for $3 from a side-of-the-road trailer. They’re incredible.

Work obsession that you are best known for?

Never stopping. And I’m always thinking, How can we take our customers’ experience to the next level, how can we make it better? I’m a big advocate of good processes, and I always like to see things from the customer’s point of view, as well as the chef’s.

Karl’s Dinner has SOLD OUT .  Don’t miss out on the other amazing events during Feast, book now