Through his years behind in restaurant kitchens, magazine columns, lecturing at AUT and judging on MasterChef, Ray McVinnie has taught many New Zealanders a thing or two about cooking. Ray is one of New Zealand’s most respected authorities on food and is Bite’s consulting food director.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My grandparents discussing the merits of some tomatoes my grandfather had grown. I must have been about five or six. My paternal grandmother’s family was originally (way back) from Northern Italy so food was always discussed.
How did you start cooking?
My mother and father both worked and I had two younger sisters so I helped out by trying to get dinner started.
Why do you love cooking?
It’s half your head and half your hands. Intellect and manual skills, the perfect combo. I also like eating.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Simple, unpretentious, paying attention to the quality of the ingredients.
Where do you draw your culinary inspiration?
The ingredients I find tell me what to cook, also from places I’ve been.
What’s your favourite meal? And favourite cuisine?
Can’t answer that. Food is like music, it depends upon how you feel. There is so much to choose from.
If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Again, too many places but I love eating with our good friends who live near Siena. I also love the street food in Penang.
Who would you like to cook for and why?
Elizabeth David (Google her). I would like to know if I could give her a good meal. I believe she was pretty grumpy.
What are your kitchen must-haves?
Salt, lemons, garlic, ginger, a good knife, a wooden chopping board, a big fridge, a good stove.
Do you do most of the cooking at home?
No, I am lucky. My partner is a great cook. She is an artist when it comes to pastry and she has much more patience than me.
You’re home alone … so you’re cooking?
Yep … even if it is something simple.
Winter is around the corner, what will you be cooking?
Long-cooked French/Spanish/Italian casseroles, Asian broths with noodles and dumplings.
Have you changed your diet recently, and why?
I am eating less meat and enjoying a much lighter diet – there’s a history of bowel cancer in the family so the doc says to ease up on the red meat, and no processed meat. Also I eat only “real” food, so nothing with additives if possible.
Have you made any food discoveries recently?
Bostock organic chicken; Maiden brand breadfruit flour - just got it and looking forward to playing around with it; Cloudy Bay clams; not a new discovery but significant - Village Press extra virgin olive oil. Remember when New Zealand olive oil cost you an arm and a leg?
So right? So wrong? (something you love/something you hate)
I love good cooking, however simple. I hate bad cooking.
Marmite or Vegemite? Spaghetti or baked beans?
Neither, I don’t eat processed food.
Pavlova or trifle?
Masala dosa from Ras Vatika in Balmoral.
Death row meal right now?
A Margherita pizza from Naples and a glass of good red wine.