My favourite table: Rachel Taulelei

Last updated 10:31 04/06/2014
Rachel Taulelei

SPECIAL MEALS: Rachel Taulelei loves the use of fresh produce at Taylors on Jackson.

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I drive by Taylors on Jackson each day from my home in Petone to look at their specials board. I like to see what's on offer. The other day I saw a roast special for $25. It was Thursday and I didn't feel like cooking so we succumbed.

It was a pretty fantastic deal. The 12-hour cooked sirloin, wagyu fat potatoes, confit parsnips, crushed peas and pan juices was amazing. Their produce is always great.

The chef and owner, Glen Taylor, forages for a lot of the produce that ends up on the plate. To know that he has gone out there and foraged for our meal is pretty special.

If it's not the board special, I'll go for the Ora king salmon. He does it with elderflower and beetroot and it is really beautiful to look at, let alone taste.

The suburbs can be a tough crowd when it comes to eating out. People want value for money, but they also want something a bit special, something they wouldn't cook at home. You get all that at Taylors in a really local bistro atmosphere.

I'm a dedicated regular at Nikau in Civic Square, too, and can be found there at least four times a week. Sometimes twice in one day. They are very true to their produce and approach it with a level of simplicity. That's a rare skill in restaurants these days.

If I'm out for a drink I love to hang out at Logan Brown's bar for an Ata Rangi Petrie and a bar snack, like the king fish carpaccio. I like to eat whatever is raw because you know it's going to be extremely fresh.

Food has always been an important part of my life.

I grew up near my grandparents and I have fond food memories of my grandfather making breakfast for my grandmother. He would always make white toast with homemade marmalade and a hot pot of tea. The friendly smell of the toast and the love with which he carried out that daily ritual is fixed in my memory.

My mum was the cook growing up in Lower Hutt. I recall her being big on dinner parties. She cooked well. I particularly remember her lambs fry and bacon - the thick gravy and toasted Vogel's which she'd butter the daylights out of.

We would spend our holidays in the Coromandel and we'd always take the boat out to catch our own fish. I'm a bit impatient when it comes to fishing. If I don't catch anything in the first four minutes I'll assign myself to being the boat girl and leave the fishing to the others.

We'd get kahawai, trevally usually. Despite all those times fishing and being in the business of fresh fish supply I'm still trying to hone my filleting skills.

I feel very lucky to live in Wellington because you can be in your office working away and 10 minutes later you can have a rod in your hand or a tank on your back. Fishing is a real leveller. Anyone can do it.

I do most of the cooking in our home but my husband, Walter, is taking on a bit more of that job lately. No matter what he cooks, it's lovely to have someone else cook for you.

We will have a lot of that in August during Wellington On a Plate.

The event gets better and better each year as participants get more adventurous. There are no boundaries to what they can do. Each year there are more and more alliances between restaurateurs and suppliers, brewers and vineyards.

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It is a real celebration of Wellington - 16 days packed from dawn till dusk and beyond with food and drink events, from scone-making to a long and decadent degustation lunch and a whole lot in between. It's a real celebration of Wellington where we like to think of ourselves as a city of world-class food. 


The details Taylors on Jackson,

282 Jackson St, Petone, 5012.

Phone: 04-560 4727.

Opening hours: Tuesday- Saturday for dinner from 5pm (pre-dinner drinks from 4pm and lunch on Saturday from 10.30am).


Wellington On a Plate launches its programme tomorrow and runs from August 15-31.


- As told to Bess Manson.

- The Dominion Post


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