29 Oct 2019

Kāpiti chef gets inventive with indigenous ingredients

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 29 October 2019

At Kāpiti Coast restaurant 50/50, chef Helen Turnbull creates approachable food with indigenous and local ingredients – think wild tahr dumplings and grilled bamboo.

Helen worked for years in Japan and the UK, before returning home to open the restaurant at Paraparaumu Beach.

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Photo: 50-50

"The produce that comes out of Kapiti is just so amazing that I wanted to be really close to it – so that's why we decided to open up there," she tells Kathryn Ryan.

Helen especially likes cooking with tarata (lemonwood), mamaku tree ferns, pikopiko (which she says tastes a bit like asparagus) and foraged bamboo.

Most of these foraged foods are supplied by Finders Eaters – a local business run by Helen's friend Mike.

"He just comes in with different products he's found. He's like 'So this is edible' and I'm like 'Sure it is, mate' and then we go through a process of R & D, [i.e.] 'Let's try cooking it like this and seeing what works'."

Helen also has a newfound interest in cooking with ingredients which help reduce anxiety and depression, after researching and cooking for a local charity event for suicide prevention recently.

To help reduce stress and anxiety in the brain, she recommends:

  • fatty fish for omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D
  • brazil nuts for selenium
  • leafy greens for magnesium
  • fermented foods, such as yoghurt and kimchi (Helen made some from fermented magnolia petals for the Lifting the Lid event)

A green salad with blanched broccoli, leafy greens, brazil nuts, avocado and lots of citrus is a meal your brain will thank you for, Helen says.

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