I’m often asked how I came to be head chef at the Boat Café in Oriental Bay, and basically the story goes like this.
I had a good look around Wellington, spent time eating and sitting in restaurants, eateries and cafés — anywhere that I knew had a full kitchen. I decided on the Boat as I saw a great deal of unrealised potential there, an opportunity to grow their food reputation. At the same time for my career, I thought it was a great place to develop my own leadership skills and broaden my experiences.
As an eatery, the Boat is a challenging environment, with a daytime café that quickly changes from pure café style, where you purchase your food at the counter, order from the cabinet or from the kitchen, and find a seat you like, to a full restaurant dining experience in the evenings, with table service and an excellent wine list to complement my clean, New Zealand-authentic dinner menu.
We also host a couple of weddings a month, conferences and parties to celebrate people’s special occasions.
My food philosophy is simple: if I can plan my dishes and menus to incorporate locally sourced ingredients and produce, I will. As an example, the lamb used in this dukkah-crusted lamb rack is sourced from Johnsonville, just outside Wellington city.
I like to know my suppliers personally and I always favour producers and farmers with similar values to ours here on the Boat.
This dish is one I chose to share because it is easy enough to make and has that ‘wow’ factor when it is served to friends and family. It looks very special plated up. The ingredients are cost effective, easy to source and healthy.
Dukkah-crusted lamb rack with smoked pumpkin purée, kumara crisps, watercress and port wine jus
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp pistachio nuts
- A pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp horopito
Smoked pumpkin purée
- 1 whole pumpkin, peeled
- Mānuka sawdust
- 1 tbsp butter
- Olive oil
- Garlic confit (slow cooked in fat)
- 2 shallots
- 2 cups of cream
- A pinch of sea salt
- 2 sides of lamb rack
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
Port wine jus
- 2 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 peppercorns
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp coriander seed
- Lamb stock
- Port wine
- 1 kumara, thinly sliced in a mandolin
- Oil for deep-frying
Fresh baby watercress to serve
- To make the dukkah, toast the ingredients in a hot oven (180˚C) for 5 minutes. Cool and blend to a fine mix.
- Next, make the pumpkin purée. Smoke the pumpkin for 10 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan with the olive oil, then add the garlic confit and shallots. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the smoked pumpkin and the cream, and simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes.
- Blend to a smooth puree, adding salt to taste.
- Seal the lamb in hot, smoking pan, then brush on the Dijon mustard and the dukkah.
- Roast the lamb at 180˚C for 10 minutes until medium rare. (Allow time for the lamb to rest for at least 3 minutes before slicing and serving.)
- While the lamb is cooking, make the port wine jus. Toss the cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and coriander seeds in a saucepan, add the lamb stock and port wine, then reduce to a third of the quantity. Strain.
- Finally, make the kumara crisps by deep-frying the kumara slices until golden brown.
- To serve, slice the lamb and place on each plate with the pumpkin purée, then garnish with fresh baby watercress seasoned with sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil, and the kumara crisps.