19 Oct 2022

From donated food to gourmet meal: Everybody Eats Cook-Off episode five - Maddie Grace

From Five Nights at Everybody Eats , 12:10 pm on 19 October 2022

Five Wellington chefs used donated food to create a gourmet three-course meal at this year's Everybody Eats Cook-Off.

Maddie Grace is a chef at Wellington restaurant Hillside Kitchen.

Her first kitchen job was at a local RSA during high school.

"I knew quite young that I wanted to be a chef so I just got in there straight away and tried to figure it out."

Maddie says the Everybody Eats challenge reflects what hospitality has always been about for her - bringing people together.

"It falls in line with the things that I value so it just seemed a bit of a no-brainer, to be honest.

She is nervous about cooking in an unfamiliar space she's not familiar with.

"Not knowing the kitchen environment is the main thing for me. I'm gonna be whacking my hips on every corner of every bench in that kitchen."

Maddie also knows the competition will be tough.

"The people who I'm competing against are excellent chefs who probably never heard my name before but I've heard all of theirs."

But she's also confident in her ability to think quickly on her feet.

"It's gonna be really cool to see how all the things that I've done in my career will play into one night.

"To me, Everybody Eats means nobody goes hungry, not wasting products and protecting the environment. Just all the good things, really."

The Everybody Eats Cook-Off was held at Wellington's LTD. event space as part of the 2022 Visa Wellington On a Plate festival.

Three nights a week, Everybody Eats serves up a cooked meal for a koha donation in Wellington and Onehunga.

Maddie served…

Entree: Avocado Puree with Coriander, Preserved Lemon and Fresh Crudite

Main: Lamb Shoulder and Broccoli Puree with Foraged Onion Weed (Vegetarian option - Stuffed Mushroom)

Dessert: Spiced Carrot and Pumpkin Cake with Kawakwa Drizzle

Spiced Butternut Cake with Kawakawa Drizzle

In this recipe, we are using minimal ingredients to achieve a beautiful fluffy cake with flavours of Aotearoa. This is a spin on the carrot cake that we know and love using only staple ingredients and things we can source ourselves.


  • 1 ½ C grated butternut pumpkin
  • 1 C flour (all-purpose or wholemeal)
  • 1 C sugar (soft brown or caster)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs (size 7)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ C dried kawakawa leaves crushed (optional)


1. Preheat your oven to 170⁰c on bake and prepare a lined cake tin. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, sugar, spices and grated pumpkin. Mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs and oil until well combined

4. Make a 'well' in your dry ingredients and pour in your mixture of egg and oil. Begin folding using light lifting and cutting motions with your spatula. Scrape against the surface of the bowl using your spatula to ensure the ingredients are well combined.

5. Pour mix into your lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven from 'Bake' to 'Fan Bake' and set the timer for another 15 minutes. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean- great, it's done!

6. Remove the cake from the tin and cool it on a rack.

Kawakawa Drizzle (an optional extra)

If you feel like 'spicing' it up, and you know how and where to forage our indigenous taonga, kawakawa, you can make this Optional extra to elevate your cake with just 4 ingredients. This is a great way to get to know this beautiful land and bring an extra element to this cake.


  • 10-15 Large kawakawa leaves
  • 1 C white sugar (caster or regular)
  • 1 C sater
  • 1 lemon


1. Wash your kawakawa leaves thoroughly and set aside.

2. In a pot, place your water and sugar and stir until dissolved. Place on medium heat and wait for bubbles to start appearing on the surface. Once at a soft boil, allow to simmer for 5 minutes and then place in your kawakawa and take off the heat. Set aside.

3. Zest the lemon and then squeeze the juice out to place both the juice and the zest in the pot with the kawakawa. If you have a blender you can place the entire contents of the pot into the blender and blend until smooth. If not, simply allow the syrup to cool. Once cool, pass the syrup through a sieve and squeeze out the leaves to maximize the flavour.

4. When you have your syrup ready to go, brush your already-cooled cake with the syrup.

Top tip! Serve the cake warm and drizzle the kawakawa syrup over your sliced cake right before serving. I like to serve this with homemade marmalade and toasted sesame.