It’s been a whirlwind year of cooking and entertaining around the country for Riverstone Kitchen’s Bevan and Monique Smith, and all the while the North Otago restaurant is busier than ever.
After opening Riverstone Kitchen in 2006 with his wife, Mr Smith is fast becoming one of New Zealand’s most recognised chefs.
The events and interesting projects the pair have been involved in this year are beyond what they thought could be achieved in just a few years.
From the smaller events, such as a fundraiser for South Otago High School in Balclutha for 150 people last week, to lining up with some of the worlds’ best in Auckland for Dining with a Difference, Mr Smith said it was a great way to see the country – and the restaurant is busier than ever.
Next up is a visit to Akaroa Cooking School on August 9 and 10 as a guest chef to premier his cooking class “A Taste of Riverstone”. Mr Smith will be demonstrating a five course tasting menu showcasing local, seasonal produce to give his guests an insight into the cooking and techniques used to achieve the food that is served at Riverstone Kitchen.
At the end of the month, Riverstone are hosting their Beer dinner. It is hosted by the “fabulous” Søren Eriksen from 8Wired Brewing in Marlborough.
He’s also writing for NZ Herald’s Bite magazine and contributing to two books – including a goat breeders’ recipe book and the Great New Zealand Cookbook.
“It’s keeping us pretty busy,” he said.
Last month he also took part in Dining for a Difference, at Skycity in Auckland – a unique fine-dining experience created by top international chef Peter Gordon to raise funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand. This year’s event raised $204,000.
“It was a great charity to get behind,” Mr Smith said.
“It was a really good mix of chefs.”
The exclusive event saw 13 of the world’s top chefs produce a four-course menu with matching wines to provide a distinctive dining experience for a group of 286 New Zealanders. Guests find out on the night, through a draw, which chef will be cooking for them.
Mr Smith brought a touch of North Otago to his courses, featuring local wines from Amisfield and Ostler.
In October, Mr Smith is Wanaka-bound for the Wine and Food Fest over Labour Weekend.
Somehow, he still finds the time to work at the restaurant, and put together a third book with Mrs Smith, and photographer Fiona Andersen.
They’re about a third of the way though book now, and the finished product is due out next year.
After doing two books in a row, Mr and Mrs Smith took a year off, to have a break and also to capture a part of the year they had not yet been able to.
“Taking a year off actually gave us the time to photograph and do more recipes incorporating autumn and winter,” Mrs Smith said.
After a year off, they are now raring to go.
“We want to get out and do a whole lot of stuff around rivers and around trees, so it’s going to be a little bit more than just a book of recipes,” Mrs Smith said.
“It’s a little bit more homely, and style-wise a bit different to what we’ve done before.”
Mr Smith said there were opportunities everywhere in North Otago, it was just a case of getting projects off the ground with enough enthusiastic people to make them successful.
“There’s always a few things going on, there’s always plans and there’s a few offers of other projects to work on,” he said.
“We’ve had lots and lots of interesting things that people want to work with us on, and then there’s the really nice stuff, like the fundraiser in Balclutha, which is just really down to earth.”