Twenty-five years ago I met a bubbly young lady from Los Angeles. She'd recently arrived in New Zealand and we were both consulting to the same publisher.
I was assisting in the publication of a cookbook and Dona White was organising the publisher's yearly hospitality trade show. In 1993 Dona launched her own business and then in 2000 she and husband Gavin introduced Aucklanders to the first major Food Show.
The couple created the Food Show believing that other people who shared their great love of food, wine and cooking, would enjoy and benefit from the experience.
It has now become a monster - the major culinary event in New Zealand showcasing hundreds of new and popular foods, wines and beverages, and with celebrity chefs displaying their talents in a purpose-built culinary theatre. Now the annual three-day Food Show also entertains thousands in both Wellington and Christchurch.
"The three shows are logistically very intense," says Dona. "We have a full-time team of 12 people who work on our events and we engage many other contractors at the time of the shows.
Presenting the Food Show to the highest standard and satisfaction for exhibitors, sponsors and visitors is our collective goal here."
I regularly attend at least two of the three annual Food Shows and as a food writer, I am delighted that the number of foodie fans attending just keeps increasing.
Because of the Whites' busy lifestyle, meals tend to be quick but healthy. Dona swears she couldn't live without avocado but she also loves noodles and pasta in Asian or Italian-themed dishes. Coriander is her special favourite herb.
Salads are the anchor for evening meals with lots of raw seasonal vegetables tossed together with toasted pine nuts, red onion, maybe some feta cheese and avocado (of course) and served with grilled fish or meat.
SNAPPER WITH CAPER SAUCE
Other skinned and boned white fish could also be used, for example tarakihi, monk fish, hapuku. Based on a Dona White recipe.
3 cloves garlic
1 green chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
cup lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
4 fillets skinned and boned snapper, about 600g
2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp each: lime juice, olive oil
2 tsp each: red wine vinegar, diced seeded green chilli
cup fresh coriander leaves
1 shallot, peeled
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
Combine the marinade ingredients in a small food processor. Whiz until well blended. Pour into a large re-sealable plastic bag.
Pat the fillets dry. Place in the plastic bag, seal and turn the fillets to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
To prepare the caper sauce, place the ingredients in a small food processor and blend, until smooth. Place aside.
Drain and discard marinade. Grill the marinated fish either on the barbecue or under a preheated grill for 3-5 minutes each side or until the fish flakes easily when pulled with a fork.
Serve the caper sauce with the fish. Serves 4.
Yummy! Measure the ingredients and place aside until ready to cook.
150g dried linguine
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
red chilli, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and patted dry
6 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
5 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp each: dried oregano, basil
400g can chopped tomatoes
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Saute the chilli, capers, olives, anchovies, garlic and herbs for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Once the pasta is just cooked - al dente - drain it well. Immediately plunge it into the sauce. Mix well. Season and add more oil, if necessary.
Serve in large bowls. Great topped with a generous portion of grated parmesan cheese plus fresh basil leaves and Italian parsley. Serves 2.
SALMON, AVOCADO & NOODLE SALAD
A delight Dona would enjoy.
50g rice stick noodles
Ginger Dressing: 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp grated root ginger
1 Tbsp each: rice vinegar, light soy sauce, lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped coriander
Salad: 150g hot smoked salmon
1 medium avocado, peeled, stoned and diced
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
cup coriander leaves
Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the packet instructions. Drain the noodles, wash under cold water, drain well then allow to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Place aside.
Break the salmon into chunks. Place in a large bowl with the cold noodles, avocado, seasonings and coriander leaves. Add about of the dressing. Gently toss to coat. Add the remainder of the dressing, if required. Serves 2.
2 large skinned & boned chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp cornflour
8 pitted green olives
2 Tbsp each: capers, extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
cup each: white wine, good chicken stock
2 Tbsp each: butter, chopped parsley
Halve the chicken breasts lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dust with the cornflour.
Wash and dry the olives and capers. Thinly slice the olives.
Heat the oil in non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes each side. Stir in the olives, capers and garlic.
Add the wine and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 4 minutes, turning the chicken over halfway through. Add the butter and parsley.
Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serves 4.
The Marlborough Express