A day in the life of Cuisine Good Food Award winner chef Giulio Sturla, of Roots restaurant

Giulio Sturla and his wife Christy are at the helm of Roots, an award-winning restaurant in Lyttelton.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

Giulio Sturla and his wife Christy are at the helm of Roots, an award-winning restaurant in Lyttelton.

Giulio Sturla and his wife Christy own Roots, a multiple award-winning restaurant in Lyttelton, near Christchurch. The restaurant is famous for using locally foraged ingredients. 

GIULIO: We moved to Lyttelton seven years ago. We came to Christchurch to work in a restaurant, then the earthquake happened. After the earthquake, I lost my job and we didn't have money. My wife had our first child coming that May. I started foraging not to make a living, but I was living out of what I found outside.

We found out the Banks Peninsula used to be the pantry of New Zealand for the Maori people. We opened this restaurant two years after the earthquake, to show what the Banks Peninsula offers.

Sturla, who is from Chile, harvests wild greens above Magazine Bay, overlooking Lyttelton Harbour.
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Sturla, who is from Chile, harvests wild greens above Magazine Bay, overlooking Lyttelton Harbour.

READ MORE:
Restaurant review: Roots Restaurant, Lyttelton
Southern restaurants shine in the Cuisine Good Food Awards
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Foraging is not a thing that we do because we have a restaurant, we do it because we're living here. For me it's more like a lifestyle rather than just a business. I grew up a big city, never had a park. For me it was about seeing nature in a very different way I'd never had the opportunity to before. Most Kiwis don't know that they have this in New Zealand.

It's a 45-minute walk from my house to the restaurant, and I can find so much food on that walk. It depends on the season. In summer, you have all the fruits and wild berries; winter, you have lots of greens - New Zealand spinach - root vegetables; autumn, you have all the mushrooms, apples, quinces and pears. Spring is flowers, sprouts, all the brassica family. Parsley, fennel and onions is massive in the spring.

We have no menu in our restaurant so you don't know what you're eating until you have it in front of you. Every day we find new things - I'm just amazed at nature every single day. When you go and harvest pine cones, for example, and you make honey out of it, or you make a sugar syrup out of pine cones and then you make a meringue, and then you're eating something that tastes like pine cones, but it's not a pine cone at all - that's impressive.

We used to make a salad with around 30, 40 ingredient we found in the wild. Forty different pieces of nature together, on a plate. You don't even need to cook it. We just put it together, that's our job.

Sturla will be putting on a degustation dinner at this year's Wellington On a Plate event, and is the founder of ConversatioNZ, which celebrates New Zealand's edible resources. A day-long symposium featuring international chefs and foodies will be held at Victoria University Pipitea campus on August 27. Tickets on sale at visawoap.com.

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 - Your Weekend

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