Q&A Stefan Loetscher
Winter is a great time to try new foods and wine, broadening your knowledge and skill set as you indulge. This year’s celebratory weekend at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine is going to help you do just that.
In August, the three-day Auckland City event is set to bring together practical cookery classes, demonstrations, wine tastings, masterclasses and dinners. The varied timetable includes a foodography dinner, teaching the principles of constructing and photographing food imagery on your phone; an enriched artisan bread class and an urban forage and lunch with Maori TV chef Rewi Spraggon and park ranger-forager Riki Bennett.
There’s also a Swiss-inspired dinner, with the option of a class beforehand with chef Stefan Loetscher, making food for the sit-down feast. Wines from Swiss expatriot winemakers, including those from Hans Herzog, will be matched to the food. Stefan’s Swiss menu includes capuns (silverbeet-rolled dumplings), braised lamb emmental style, veal with rosti and, for dessert, chestnuts, meringue and vanilla icecream.
Stefan, who is a tutor at the school, formerly owned Pure restaurant in Herne Bay and now runs his own small vineyard, Oak Estate, in the Bridge Pa Triangle in Hawke’s Bay. He shares his recipe for capuns — stuffed silverbeet dumplings. They will be paired in his menu with his own Oak Estate chardonnay.
For more on the Wine & Food Celebration, August 18-20, visit event.foodandwine.co.nz.
Tell us about the menu and the wines for your Swiss-inspired dinner.
The menu is a collection of traditional Swiss dishes from a few different regions. Dairy, of course, is a vital ingredient but we also use saffron in a lamb dish and chestnuts for dessert.
Your dishes are matched to wines from local Swiss winemakers. Is there a strong Swiss hospitality network in New Zealand?
The Swiss community in New Zealand is fairly small, so there is usually quite an instant connection once you meet someone from your area on the other side of the world. We had been doing Swiss-themed weeks at our previous restaurant, Pure, and sourced wine with Swiss connections as it is very difficult sourcing Swiss wine.
How long have you called New Zealand home?
We moved to New Zealand about 11 years ago, living in Auckland for the first 10 years and now in Hawke's Bay.
What do you miss most about cooking and dining out in Switzerland? And what do you enjoy most about cooking and eating in NZ?
I don't miss all that much of the cooking from Switzerland as I can just cook it myself here. In New Zealand I really enjoy all the ethnic restaurants, especially in Auckland.
Is it easy to source traditional Swiss ingredients in this country?
More and more Swiss cheese is imported nowadays and there are a few Swiss butchers around as well to source New Zealand-made Swiss-style sausages and cured meats.
What do you bring back when you travel to Europe?
I always have to bring some "eau de vie" fruit-based spirits. No one does them here like back home.
Why did you move to Hawke's Bay?
After visiting Hawke's Bay many times over the years, it is the perfect spot for what we had in mind. Great climate to make wine, produce in abundance and a much more relaxed lifestyle.
Tell us about your vineyard and kitchen at Oak Estate.
My wife Nadine and I are looking after the vineyard and cellar door, me in the kitchen and Nadine front-of-house. Ant Mackenzie is our consultant winemaker. We have a very relaxed atmosphere at Oak Estate. All the food is made on site with as many ingredients as possible sourced from the neighbourhood. During summer most guests sit outside, surrounded by vines. In summer we are open 7 days for lunch and on Fridays for dinner. In winter we are open Thursday to Saturday for lunch and Fridays for dinner.