Top chef hails Taranaki roots

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2012
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Taranaki-born Ben Shewry

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A Taranaki boy known as one of the world's most innovative chefs will weave tales of growing up in rural Awakino into an exclusive cooking presentation in Wellington.

Taranaki-born Ben Shewry is returning to the city where he learnt his trade to present a masterclass at the Wellington On A Plate festival next month.

Shewry is now the executive chef of multi-award winning Melbourne restaurant Attica.

In his session billed as “Home Is Where The Heart Is”, Shewry said he would intersperse demonstrating his recipes with stories of his past, including growing up in rural Taranaki and how it informed his cooking.

“Growing up in Awakino, we didn't have vast amounts of toys and made our own fun.

"I think that's part of every New Zealander, innovation is a birthright, it's part of our culture,” he said.

Taranaki was his defining influence when he started out at Attica.

He is modest about his award-winning recipes and places emphasis on sustainability in his cooking and using natural ingredients.

He said he wanted to show that success is attainable for the average New Zealander.

“Just because you have a world-class restaurant doesn't make you higher than anybody else.

“If I can achieve it anybody can,” he said.

Shewry said he was looking forward to catching up with friends in Wellington, and seeing his parents, who were coming down from Taranaki.

Shewry trained at Waikato Polytech and worked in New Plymouth as a junior cook at the Auto Lodge, then the Plymouth Hotel.

He then spent five years in Wellington during which time he cooked for governors-general Sir Michael Hardie Boys and Dame Silvia Cartwright at Government House.

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