Napier can be found on the East Coast of New Zealands North Island in Hawkes Bay. It was here that I was born, attended school, fell in love (more than once) and started my love of cooking. I dont recall life before cooking and have early memories of
- stirring the gravy at Dees house in Battery Road for Sunday lunch after church -pre 1970.
- being allowed to do baking at my friend Missy’s in Havelock Tce. Her mum, Aunty Pam, was so cool she appeared to let us mix whatever we wanted together and bake it! I think in reality she had more control over the process that we were aware of – early 1970’s.
- baking cockeyed cake with Kirsty P at their home on Bluff Hill using a real recipe – mid 1970’s
- family holidays to visit relatives and me busy scribbling the instructions to make whatever had been served for morning tea and getting gifted recipe books.
- the parish morning teas at Eskdale and Tutira where the ladies brought a plate of the most divine scones, pikelets, sponges and of course the club sandwiches.
I attended Port Ahuriri School, Napier Intermediate and Colenso High School and continued to be inspired to cook through these years
- Mr Campbell was the Principal in my last years at promary school and his lovely wife made an awesome Banana Cake. It was the Edmonds recipe with Lemon Icing on it but it tasted so divine.
- Mrs Schofield, the Home Ec teacher at intermediate inspired me to list my dream career as a Home Economics teacher in 1975. Who would have believed that this dream would ever become a reality – not me.
- High School Home Economics was not so much fun as it was more about household management and being a good wife so I only took this for one year with Kim as my cooking partner. I still use the recipes for pikelets and apple shortcake but more importantly, where would we be without Armenian Nutmeg Cake and Caramel Sauce?
In my last year at school I had settled on a career in cooking. I cooked meals for the family and dinner parties at home but was also starting to make a name for myself decorating birthday and novelty cakes. It was also in 1979 that I got my first paying job in a kitchen and went on to work in several other Napier Kitchens in my career.
- Saturday and Sunday mornings helping Sister Maureen prepare the lunch for the borders at Sacred Heart College – 1979.
- Full time cook at the Crown Hotel doing the seafood buffet lunch in the Crown and Anchor restaurant1979 – 1980.
- Working with Rogan and the team in the Cobb & Co restaurant in the Masonic Hotel where I must confess to learning about much more than just cooking -1980.
- Harlows at the Criterion Hotel – probably the fist job that I actually wrote down some of the recipes and still use many of them today -1985.
The people of Napier have also given me many other recipes and food stories: Nans Fish Pie, Dee Biscuits, Aunty Francies Bread and many many more…
Napier is about so much more than food. There are great beaches for swimming, surfing and fishing as well as the renowned Art Deco architecture.
Check out more information on Napier and make plans to visit this awesome place.