Get inspired in the River Kitchen

21:56, Apr 09 2014
River Kitchen
FAMILY FARE: Aaron Bailey of River Kitchen serves a slice of Courgette and Walnut Cake to his daughter Lola Gibbs-Bailey.

The philosophy behind the food at Nelson's River Kitchen is clear.

The words "inspired, fresh and delicious" feature on the cafe's logo and chef Aaron Bailey says his mantra with food is "just about keeping it simple".

Aaron and his wife Katy bought the cafe, which looks out onto the Maitai River, last year together with Katy's sister Clare and her husband Blue.

The couples have five children between them and most days after school the children can be seen in and around the cafe.

"This is basically an extension of our family kitchen," Aaron says of the business.

Aaron and Katy moved to Nelson last year from Noosa so their children could grow up in Nelson.


They wanted them to experience the benefits of the simple childhood they had enjoyed, packed with time spent outside, honest home-cooked food and with cousins and family close at hand.

The couples opened the cafe which sits in the Millers Acre carpark last August.

All have a long-running background in the hospitality industry.

Clare and Blue used to own Milton St Takeaways.

Clare also runs gourmet marshmallow business Posh Puffs with her other sister, Sarah Gibbs.

Aaron is keen to use as much of Nelson's fresh produce as possible.

He says someone from the cafe attends a market twice a week.

They also have gardens to grow their own produce and recently bought chickens for their own free range eggs.

"It's just really honest."

We asked Aaron for a recipe and his delicious, light courgette cake is perfect for using up the last courgettes from the garden.


6 eggs
300ml of sunflower oil
600g brown sugar
2 vanilla beans
600g plain flour
2 tsp baking power
2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
600g courgette
200g walnut


Beat the oil and sugar in a mixer. Slice the vanilla pods and extract the insides; add to the sugar mix. Slowly add the eggs. Add the grated courgette and spices. Lastly, fold in the remaining dry ingredients. Separate the mixture into two pre-lined round baking tins.

Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes.

When cooked a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean when it is removed. The top should have a slightly golden top and when touched it should spring back slightly.

Once cool, cover the top with a mixture of cream cheese, lemon juice and a little icing sugar to sweeten.