Classic Kiwi Food Shows

Without food life would not only be boring, but impossible. Television networks obviously agree: scan the TV listings, and cooking programmes are visible everywhere from My Kitchen Rules to Masterchef and Come Dine with Me. This collection offers up a smorgasbord of local chefs and culinary delights, and the chance to look back at a kinder, less competitive style of cooking show. Featuring the legendary Alison Holst, 1960s era import Graham Kerr, Wellington’s Logan and Brown, the sometimes cruel, sometimes kind Hudson and Halls, and more.

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Alison Holst Cooks - Bread and Cheese

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

In this short clip, sponsored by the New Zealand Dairy Board, cookbook queen Alison Holst provides a rundown on four easy meals that can be made out of bread and cheese. Made long before the more hyperactive Food In a Minute, Holst’s calm charisma gently talks us through the ins and outs of mouse traps, cheese rolls, mini pizzas and, of course, cheese toasties. A surprise bell from the microwave threatens to throw Holst off her stride, but then a dive into her rich supply of kitchen tips helps her get things right back on track.

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Hudson and Halls - Episode Seven (1982)

Television, 1982 (Excerpts)

They came, they battered, they bickered. Peter Hudson and David Halls were as famous for their on-screen spats as they were for their recipes. The couple ("Are we gay? Well, we're certainly merry") turned cooking into comedy. Coming soon after winning 1981 Feltex Entertainer of the Year, these excerpts show viewers how to make crepes with cream chicken and vegetable filling. There's microwaves, roasted nuts and dollops of innuendo. Guests are English jazz clarinetist Acker Bilk, and Irish poet and TV personality Pam Ayres, who performs some ribald rhymes.

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The Graham Kerr Show - Cooking with Kerr

Television, 1966 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode, New Zealand's first celebrity chef abandons his usual format to answer queries from his studio audience about food and cooking. Topics covered by the soon to be world famous Graham Kerr include how to stop scrambled eggs drying out (add cream), battering oysters (never) and when to make Christmas cake (at least six months in advance). The show is a fascinating preserve of mid-60s cuisine – from crumbed cutlets and bolognese to the Galloping Gourmet's curious ‘Long White Cloud’ dessert. Kerr, of course, is as witty, charming and urbane as ever.

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Hunger for the Wild - Series One, Episode Three (Mokihinui River whitebait)

Television, 2006 (Full Length Episode)

This award-winning lifestyle series took Wellington chefs Al Brown and Steve Logan out of their fine dining restaurant kitchen, and off on a mission to put the local in 'locally sourced' kai. In this episode it's wild food on a wild river — whitebaiting on the Mokihinui. Brownie gets a primo 'stand' and coaster advice; and Steve gets some Green Fern lager and meets a Department of Conservation ranger who tells the whitebait's perilous life story and nets a grown-up: a kokopu. Then it's riverside fritters with beurre blanc sauce and asparagus, washed down with a glass of pinot gris.

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Peter Gordon's Pacific Harvest

Television, 2001 (Full Length)

Whanganui-born chef Peter Gordon helmed the Sugar Club in Wellington in the 80s, before moving to the UK and started up a series of acclaimed restaurants, including Providores and Tapa Room (opened shortly after this doco was made). Plaudits as a pioneer of ‘fusion’ cooking followed. Here the ‘kai magpie’, takes in everything from paw paw to paua on a homecoming taste trip: raw fish in Rarotonga, Waikato River 'tuna', deer at Wairarapa’s Te Parae, Seresin organic olive oil, Marlborough koura, Stewart Island oysters, and more. The one-off special screened on TV One and on BBC2.

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Real Food for Real People with Jo Seagar - First Episode

Television, 1998 (Full Length)

This 1998 TV series marked the screen debut of Kiwi chef Jo Seagar. Seagar had attracted notice with her bestselling 1997 recipe book You Shouldn't Have Gone To So Much Trouble, Darling. The goal of the first episode of the 13-part series is to “take the angst out of entertaining”. Some of Seagar’s “short cuts and clever little tricks and tips” include doubling up on pastry trays, and being stingy with the caviar (“if you use a whole lot they don’t think it’s real”). She also applies her nursing training to bandaging chicken breasts. 

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Kai Time on the Road (Series 10, Episode 13)

Television, 2012 (Full Length Episode)

This “best of” episode from Māori TV’s long-running te reo food show revisits stories that presenter Peter Peeti has shot throughout the North Island. It‘s a celebration of food harvested from the land, rivers and sea, ranging from stingrays on the East Coast and the Tūhoe Wild Food Festival at Waimana, to goat hunting in Taranaki and fishing on Parengarenga Harbour. Peeti’s korero with the people of the land is equally important, and his giggle is worthy of Billy T. Recipes include mussel fritters, baked hapuka, venison casserole and curried snapper.

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Home Butchery - Hygiene and Equipment

Television, 1979 (Full Length)

In this series about butchery, Ken Hieatt dons his apron and saw to teach meat cutting skills in the home. Standing in front of two beef carcasses, Hieatt explains the tools of the trade and how to keep knives sharp. After sharpening his knife on a stone, Hieatt displays his skills by trimming his arm hairs. Hieatt assures the viewer that if you cut a beef carcass with his special technique, "you'll end up not 100% butcher but not too bad." State television produced several short programmes like this, from five to 15 minutes long, as show "fillers".

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A Taste of Christmas

Television, 2003 (Full Length)

Taste New Zealand presenter Peta Mathias hosts this 2003 Christmas special, featuring festive food and music. Musical guests Hinewehi Mohi, bass-baritone Conal Coad, Brooke Fraser (who sings 'Joy to the World') and King Kapisi perform, share Christmas memories, and cook their favourite seasonal dishes. Mathias herself sings 'O Come All Ye Faithful', backed by students of her old school, St Mary's College in Ponsonby. Other highlights include Mathias making music with King Kapisi, and Mohi's bilingual version of 'Silent Night' with choir Musica Sacra.

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Jo Seagar's Easy Peasy Xmas

Television, 1998

Jo Seagar’s Easy Peasy Xmas saw chef and author Jo Seagar offering advice on how to get Christmas cooking and hosting done right. In the first episode of three, Seagar plans for a Christmas drinks party, and provides advice on how to host the perfect festive get-together. Later episodes feature recipes for eggnog, Christmas pudding, and glazed ham. The following year saw one-off special Jo Seagar’s Easy Peasy Easter. Seagar made her television debut in 1998 with Real Food for Real People with Jo Seagar, shortly before her Easy Peasy shows. Jo Seagar Cooks followed in 2007.