From words to John's Kitchen

Last updated 07:22 11/12/2013
Yvonne Dasler
Sven Herselman
Yvonne Dasler

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Rapaura resident Yvonne Dasler is possibly best known in Marlborough for her work with John's Kitchen, but comes from a long career in media and during a golden age in the industry.

Yvonne worked on several titles, including the Marlborough Express and Wanganui Chronicle and was a senior staff writer with the New Zealand Listener. She also worked in TV and radio as a reporter and presenter.

At the time the NZ Listener was head and shoulders above other New Zealand publications in terms of readership. "We were the only publication that had TV listings. We didn't even need advertising staff to sell adverts, they just about sold themselves," Yvonne says.

Her love of the job was strong and she split her time between her home in Marlborough and her work in Wellington, commuting for four-day work weeks of 10 hour-days. One of the biggest highlights for her was being on the job covering the first public photo shoot of the young Prince William at Government House in Auckland in 1983.

"That was when he played with a Buzzy Bee giving it fame outside of New Zealand."

Yvonne's focus later shifted with the progress of technology and she got into video production and directing.

However, her heart has always been in Marlborough where she and her husband Clive established one of the first vineyards in the Rapaura area.

"I have to admit that I have had very little to do with the vineyard. The industry has been good to us. It has also brought far more diversity to Marlborough which has been great," Yvonne says.

For the past 13 years a large part of her focus in her spare time has been with John's Kitchen, a charity that helps those in need with free and affordable meals. They have also become a drop-in centre, forming an important social link.

"It was originally started by a group of us at the Methodist Church. We just saw a need in the community. In 2009 we lost our venue and moved, but that turned out to be a good thing because we are so well located now," she says.

People have taken the centre into their hearts, with donations meaning that thousands of meals can be given out each year.

Never one to be idle Yvonne is trained as a marriage celebrant, and runs a B&B from her home. Being a celebrant is something she loves because it allows her to be part of people's happiest moments, she says. When it comes to cooking Yvonne admits that food cooked by others certainly tastes better to her and a kitchen is not her "natural habitat".

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Festive icecream cake

Packet of chocolate thins biscuits

50g butter

1 litre walnut and maple icecream

Packet meringues

300ml cream

For those like Yvonne who don't enjoy cooking she suggests eating about one-third of the packet of biscuits while drinking a cup of coffee. This will fortify you for the arduous cooking.

Grind up the remainder of the biscuits with the butter. When it's all a crumbly mess press into a cake tin - a silicon or loose-bottomed pan is best - and chill in the fridge until hard.

Whip the cream until firm and gently stir in the broken meringue pieces. Press the ice cream on to the chilled biscuit base and top with the cream and meringue mixture. Freeze until firm. Wait until unexpected guests turn up and present it with a flourish. If you like you can decorate with chocolate shavings or chocolate sauce if guests need to be impressed further.

John's Kitchen's annual Christmas dinner smorgasbord is next Wednesday from 5.30pm. All welcome. Entry is a donation. The centre is in Redwood St, Blenheim.

- The Marlborough Express


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