Experienced Chef and Chef Lecturer Mark Griffiths and Carmel Draper are excited to share their unique cooking concept The Local Food Kitchen, a one-of-a-kind food destination offering bespoke experiences that showcase the local produce available in Matakana, one of New Zealand’s premier food and wine destinations.
The husband-and-wife duo moved to the region 10 years ago and instantly fell in love with its charm. Armed with a vision of sharing its exquisite fare with Kiwis and international visitors alike and a desire to celebrate a mutual love of good food, wine and country living, they brought The Local Food Kitchen to life and haven’t looked back since.
The Local Food Kitchen offers a ‘Local Food Experience’, a full day that sees attendees visit the celebrated Matakana Village Farmers’ Market with Chef to learn about and sample fresh produce while meeting local artisan food suppliers. Returning to The Local Food Kitchen HQ, they prepare a gourmet three course lunch under Chef Mark’s guidance using ingredients collected on the day. Guests take home a goodie bag of selected quality food products, and the skills and knowledge to recreate their dishes at home.
“We want people to uncover the best of what our little slice of paradise has to offer,” says Mark Griffiths, co-founder and Chef of The Local Food Kitchen. “Our aim is for them to walk away with an appreciation of the value of buying local, armed with lots of insider tips and tricks, and feeling enthusiastic and confident about cooking with seasonal produce – and well-fed of course!”
In addition, a selection of cooking classes for both individuals and groups is available, which focus on either regional styles of cooking such as Asian, Italian, French or Indian, or technical skills including patisserie, bread-making, knife skills, or butchery; as well as local food tasting sessions, and memorable team-building events for corporates or businesses.
For those who want to discover the fresh flavours of Matakana without getting their hands dirty, there’s the option of a private dining experience with their own Chef, in the intimacy of The Local Food Kitchen’s newly-renovated private dining room, or even at their own home.
Carmel and Mark place huge emphasis on community and have developed strong relationships with the suppliers they work with, including Mahurangi Oysters, Mandy’s Organic Herbs & Seedlings, Swiss Bliss Chocolate, Matakana Honey, Matakana Nut Butters, Harry’s Organics, Matakana Olive Co-op, Plume Bakery, Sunwalker Chillies, Whangaripo Valley Buffalo Cheese and Matakana Estate Vineyard.
“It’s so important to support our resident suppliers wherever possible,” says Carmel Draper, co-founder of The Local Food Kitchen. “Not only does the produce taste so much better, but it’s healthier and has less impact on the environment. It comes down to the love of the land – like us, our producers work with the land and what they have available to them. Their stories and passions are a joy to share.”
In line with their community approach, Carmel and Mark have also been involved with Matakana Greenswap since its inception six years ago – a concept that sees residents swap their fresh produce for other homegrown crops – as well as organic food delivery service Matakana OOOOBY, and the local Matakana Community Garden.
After 10 years of living on a vineyard and growing grapes themselves, Carmel and Mark have now moved closer to the Mahurangi River where they are now planting Manuka and introducing bees to produce their own honey. Hence, it is no surprise that they also make their premises available for other growers in the area, foodies and budding chefs as an incubator kitchen to practise and work in, as they start-up businesses or look to add value to their products.
And despite the close-to-home nature of both their ingredients and ethos, The Local Food Kitchen uses its high-quality, seasonal produce to craft cuisine inspired by different cultures, largely thanks to Mark’s time spent cooking overseas. Guests get to taste a variety of dishes from traditional Kiwi pavlova and wild local boar, to Italian gnocchi and French galettes.
Just an hours’ drive north of Auckland, and with some of NZ’s most beautiful beaches and vineyards within a stone’s throw, The Local Food Kitchen is an easy escape for a day trip or the weekend – perfect for couples, individuals or groups looking for an educational and fun experience. The Local Food Kitchen is based at 989c Matakana Road, Matakana Village, North Auckland and is open seven days a week.