Boost of inspiration for New Zealand food culture

9th of March 2015

A group of New Zealand chefs is bringing to life a movement through thought and action – a conversation among chefs and peers from hospitality industry here in New Zealand; to inspire and promote sharing of ideas, knowledge and passion.

ConversatioNZ will begin with a day of talks The Beginning, Pursuance of Our Voice on 4th of May 2015 at XCHC, Christchurch.

New Zealand is not widely known as a world food destination. We have however something very unique – climate that is very kind and an environment that offers stunning quality produce from land and sea. There is so much knowledge and talent right here and a foundation of developing strong food culture. Lauraine Jacobs, food & wine writer says “The only way forward for New Zealand to be recognized internationally is if we can share amazing tales, stories and vision. There is a lack of recognition of local and seasonal food, even within the industry, which is not helped by supermarket driven policies of distribution and supply.”

ConversatioNZ is an opportunity. An opportunity to connect with minds and souls that are part of the food community in New Zealand and beyond. This is not planned as a one-off event, but an ongoing conversation.

Giulio Sturla from Roots Restaurant, the man behind the idea of the ConversatioNZ, says: “We want to create a strong community around food; what we grow, what we know, what we eat and what we create or plate, and to push ourselves to the next level. We want to share what we do and to be inspired.”

The speakers on 4th of May 2015 include international and New Zealand chefs, writers, growers and professionals including Matt Lambert (Musket Room, New York), Lauraine Jacobs (Listener food writer), Michael Meredith (Meredith’s), Bevan Smith (Riverstone Kitchen), Michael Voumard and many other talented people. ConversatioNZ will inspire chefs and peers in the food industry.

There are great examples of similar movements in the top food world to lead the way and show why it is important for chefs and people in the food industry to come together such as Mad by Rene Rezepi, of Noma, Denmark, and WAW by Ben Shewry, Attica, Australia. ConversatioNZ promises to be an exciting and inspirational opportunity for New Zealand food, wine and tourism.

We dream big!

Registration and further information about the movement and day of talks The Beginning, Pursuance of Our Voice at

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Again it has been a long time since my last post, sometimes I think that instagram, facebook, and twitter could help to fill the gap of my blog, but not. I look back and I feel my blog is the only thing that tells the story.

2014 is gone, it was a great year with a lot of things achieved in many ways. Roots Restaurant is doing great with very good comments about our food and service; the garden is beautiful this time of the year and taking positive likes from every one enjoying dinner in it.

Michael finished with us and went on to work at Shop 8 in Christchurch; amazing person and still amazed of what he is able to do! Charlotte (front of the house) and Ruben (kitchen), the Belgiums joined us in August, beautiful couple with a lot of energy and passion to fulfill their dreams, and because of life they will leave us in March to find new adventures! We will enjoy our pre service hugs with them until the last day.

The latest is the family of three we were waiting for… Liane, Kane and Isabella have been a part of Roots since the beginning and now they physically are joining the team to take this project even further, to push boundaries and exploit the most of our brains!

It’s happening, we are still in summer and after a very busy December and the first days of January we already have things to look forward for the next 9 months. This friday 16th I have been invited to share my ideas around creativity with In The Loop, on the 2nd and 3rd of February “A Foraged North Canterbury Dinner” will take place in Waipara and Christchurch, presenting a 7 courses menu working alongside Shop Eight and Orphans Kitchen , it feels funny but we dont know what we  are cooking because we will have to foraged all of the food, prepare it and serve it to 70 people, crazy.

Pecha Kucha night will be held in Lyttelton in the new Albion Square on the 11th February, we would like to talk about positive stories about what we do.

A CONVERSATION is cooking! stay tuned because you dont want to miss out on this one…

and more….



Those words keep us going from day number one! I could tell you so many stories that contradict it and probably if we stopped to think in those stories we would not be were we are now.

In less than two years we have done so much, our relationship with our suppliers is better than ever and we can find incredible NZ produce for every season, with one recent addition to our menu Goat meat, it’s more than local, they roam freely on the hills surrounding our restaurant. We do more than just to know their environment, we share it!

Every day we continue building that interdependence with nature and making our customers part of that. We are here to celebrate that, our FOOD IS NATURAL!! a bigger name than just being organic or biodynamic, it means real without chemicals or highly processed attachments, we like it raw and fresh like just picked or dug or just caught.

Yes, people are looking what we are doing; they are tasting the difference and this is only the beginning…


Almost six months later

I wrote my last post on November last year, since then we have been really busy at the restaurant, I would like to say very steady and with a notorious increase in bookings if we compare with the same time last year, so that means happiness but with more things to do.

The team in the kitchen it’s still Michael and I, with some apprentices that have been part of our team for days and weeks, for them a different perspective of a kitchen and a very different way of work, for us a good way to communicate with other cooks of what we do and to try cultivate a different approach to food that they have learned in their careers. Everyone is a winner here, young cooks get the chance to learn things that they have never done before and create their own idea of cooking and we enjoy doing it, it is part of the “big picture”, we want to see cooks doing what they feel is right, developing their own skills and creativity, with all of this we can imagine a more interesting Culinary future with a better understanding of how important is to know where your food comes from and the respect it deserves.

The dinning area is well manage by Christy, with great comments on her wine pairings, service and personal attention make us feel that we are doing the right thing, kitchen and front of the house working as ONE creating that experience our guests are looking for.

Roots team is growing, Charlotte (front of the house) and Ruben (kitchen) will join us from August, just getting ready for spring and summer seasons.

We continue working with the Harbour Coop producing pantry essentials for our community, and with more people being part of our project the more we will produce. Exiting conversations are happening right now with the possibility in create a mobile kitchen for communal use and local food production…

We continue offering 5 or 8 course degustations, some special request os 10 courses have been made (if you keen just let us know). As well as vegan and vegetarian degustations almost every week, making us more creative with our vegetables and taking them to the next level of sensorial presentation.

Now talking about spreading the word, we have created accounts for Roots Restaurant in:

Facebook          Twitter @RootsLyttelton          Instagram: rootslyttelton

you know what to do now…

Year ONE

Yes, Roots Restaurant is one year old!

After 12 hard worked months we can say it is worth it, an amazing experience of running a family business non-stop, every day something to do even that we try to keep two days a week to rest, there is not actual rest, it is in your head in your heart, and your thoughts are always wanting to make it work and be successful every single minute you are thinking in something for Roots. Family is the most important thing so we have worked out that the three of us can share our time together at the restaurant and out of it. We are all enjoying on a daily basis, Coral has “learned” some basics on cooking and even helps to keep the place tidy, such a helper!

I can say that from the kitchen we have developed an incredible skill to make menus with produce that arrives every day, this is what we have today.. this is what we use today. When it comes to produce, comparing the first day’s menu to today’s, there is a massive improvement, now we have an incredible range of fruits and vegetables coming from very small growers, some of them just growing for hobby, even during winter months (it was hard) we could not offer our 10 course degustation. 

We are still three people working at Roots, but one person will join us at the beginning of 2014, Christy (Front of the House Manager), Michael (Cook) and I, offering now only a 5 courses or 8 courses degustation, vegetarian option available in both menus as well as wine pairing. We continue only operating on a bookings only basis, but we take walk-ins if we have space on the night and if we have enough food depending on the courses. All of us overlook all the operation at Roots: garden, bees and chickens, foraging, farm picking, farm and winery visits, office management, cleaning, repairs, including all the other things to do in a restaurant. 

We opened the door to a few projects during this year and we are working to make them more tangible over the next months. Roots team participates in festivals focused on education and sharing knowledge within the community. The Sharing for Knowledge project took place three times creating three different experiences for us and our customers.

On the dream list for our garden there were chickens, bees and a glass house, well a glass house is the only thing missing, but it will come… There are 4 chickens helping us a lot with breaking down the organic waste and some delicious eggs, the bees are making honey and pollinating flowers. Now we have a better idea what it grows well and what does not in the garden, not much sun during winter but lots to do in spring and summer.

We are already planning our second year and stay alert because there will be big news for Roots.

On the day of our anniversary, 14th of November we could celebrate with a decadent carrot cake from Rushani, and our customers were delighted with truffles from Gareth in Waipara. 




We could not be were we are if is not for our supporters, you people are the best!

Thank you all, we would love to see you at Roots!


Sharing for knowledge, the next step…



We believe that education needs to be a part of everybody’s life, in an ongoing way, with curiosity as the spark to learn and be creative.  We have done 2 of these collaborations and the third will take place this weekend. The main idea is to meet people and create a conversation about food, to listen to people’s ideas and concepts about their craft and how it could be done better, having in mind a respect for food and where it comes from: mother nature.

The concept of Sharing for Knowledge is taking a better shape now. We would love to add something more than just food  and wine on those nights, we would like our customers to remember those nights as memorable, something that becomes a part of their lives in some way; like planting a little seed that could become a sprout or even a tree. We want our customers  to take home some of the knowledge we share in the kitchen, probably with that little seed we plant on that day we could have a great harvest sometime in the future. That’s the next level, to make our guest part of our own journey for a dinning experience that they will remember for a long time.

Garden, Spring 2013

So far, for this summer (from seed), in the terraces, raised and pots:

New Zealand Potatoes

  • Kowiniwini
  • MoeMoe
  • Waiporoporo
  • Karuparera
  • Huakaroro

Radishes, Raphanus Sativus

  • Cherrybelle
  • French Breakfast
  • Round Black Spainsh
  • Purple Plum
  • German Giant

Basil, Ocimum Basilicum

  • Greek Mini
  • Cinnamon
  • Red Opal
  • Thai Siam Queen
  • Dark Opal
  • Fino Verde
  • Corsican
  • Spicy Globe
  • Mrs Burns Lemon
  • Amethyst


  • Scarlet Nantes
  • Paris Market

Lettuce, Latuca Sativa

  • Ice King
  • Buttercrunch
  • Freckles
  • Miners