Barbeques around New Zealand are sizzling with Mainland Special Reserve Haloumi as the surfing chef Mark Gardner sets out on a mission to inspire Kiwis around the BBQ!
Haloumi, the latest addition to the Mainland Special Reserve family, is a fresh Cyprus-style cheese that is one of the latest trends in barbeque cooking. Haloumi does not melt like most cheeses, has a mild flavour and develops a mouth-watering brown crust when it’s cooked.
Mark Gardner, best known as co-host of ‘Surfing the Menu’ on TV3, is a huge fan of Haloumi and reckons there’s no better way to enjoy it than with family and friends around the barbeque.
“The trouble is most Kiwi blokes know no better than throwing some sausages and steak on the BBQ. It’s my mission to change this and get these guys cooking Haloumi – it’s the best way to impress, tastes great and is ideal for vegetarians,” says Mark.
“The easiest way to cook Haloumi is to cut it into thick slices, brush with olive oil and season with salt before popping on a hot bbq grill or non-stick pan for two minutes each side. Serve it on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and garnish with sliced mint and black pepper,” he says.
Mark also suggests a sprinkle of salt on the grill to help prevent the cheese from sticking – but not too much as Haloumi has a mild salt flavour.
“And don’t try and turn Haloumi too soon! It needs time to crust which means it won’t stick to the grill or pan. So when you feel like flipping it – just give it a little longer than you think”.
Haloumi can be used in salads, on kebab sticks and as a delicious addition to burgers and wraps.
Mainland Special Reserve Haloumi is available at all good supermarkets from $5.99.
About Mark Gardner:
Mark Gardner is a Kiwi chef best known as co-host of ‘Surfing the Menu’ where he travelled New Zealand with Aussie chef and co-host Ben O’Donoghue showcasing the best of our sights and tastes.
At just 32 years old, Mark has travelled the world cooking for the rich and famous, but he remains a down-to-earth Kiwi lad who seeks inspiration from seasonal produce (including from his own garden!) and the bounty of seafood the New Zealand coastline has to offer.
A sun-follower, Mark spends the Kiwi winter in the Northern Hemisphere as personal chef to an American family in The Hamptons. Mark thinks he’s got the best of both worlds but he says he’ll always call Gisborne home. It’s the town where he developed an interest in cooking working in his father’s restaurant “Pete’s on the Beach” as a teenager.
A younger Mark would head up to “Pete’s” straight from the beach, shower at the surf club and head to the restaurant for a meal. He ended up chipping in as a larder chef and the rest, as they say, is history.
Mark trained at Waikato Polytechnic specialising in Classic French Cuisine and since then has spent his life combining his two greatest loves – cooking and surfing. So the restaurants he has worked at are usually only a short drive to a great surf beaches.
Noosa proved an ideal location when he worked as head chef at Jaspers Restaurant and as Sous Chef at Madisons Bistro. And when in the states, Mark reckons it’s pretty ironic he’s caught the subway to get to the beach for a surf.
He thinks filming ‘Surfing the Menu New Zealand’ in 2006 has been his best job yet – travelling, adventure-seeking, sourcing local ingredients and cooking at iconic Kiwi locations with co-host Ben O’Donoghue.
Mark takes inspiration from Peter Gordon for being such a pioneer of Pacific Rim cuisine and says reading Gordon Ramsay’s biography made him want to be a better chef.
Mark is a regular guest at food shows here and across the Tasman. His work has appeared in Life and Leisure and Taste magazines.
Mark’s top Haloumi tips:
· Mainland Special Reserve Haloumi works best when grilled or fried on the bbq or cooked on a non-stick pan
· Make sure you serve it hot straight from the grill or out of the pan
· Using high heat settings will give you the best results with a great crust
· Sprinkle a little salt on the grill before placing the cheese on; it helps to stop the cheese sticking. Not too much though as Haloumi is mildly salty already.
· Don’t try and turn Haloumi too soon – it needs time to crust so it doesn’t stick to the grill. So when you feel like flipping it just give it a little longer than you think.
· Haloumi is firm when uncooked but once it’s been on the BBQ it softens up to form a unique texture and will even squeak when you eat it.